The shadows in this deepening night moved with purpose, beaten grass forming into footprints as they halted, then moved as one until fanning out into a wide swath, almost abreast to halt again just below the crest of the mountain top. They maneuvered amidst jagged rocks, while eyes, rimmed with a dull green glow peered through the night observation devices at the squat stone hovels that dotted a steep ridge across the blackened plain.

A tinge of freezing wind rolled among the group as their stare veered left to catch a slender cigar shaped craft streaking in from the south. They followed it until it dipped its nose, causing them to raise the NOD’s. A shockwave of gray vapor arced skyward from the orange fireball that engulfed the structures on the ridge, hurling light across the plain, flickering upon their faces.

The rumbling though distant, still trembled the earth beneath them as they pulled the NOD’s down. The fires created an image of pulsating shades of green in the devices that grew and waned while scanning for any sign of the structures. Slender wisps of smoke rising into a fist of churning white above where the dwellings once stood, confirmed the sight.

The Tomahawks did their job. Now, the Green Berets realized the other 99 beginning to strike in quick flashes across the expanse of horizon would yield similar results. The date was March 21st, 2003, 2 days into Operation Iraqi Freedom…

Turkey’s refusal to allow the U.S. Army’s 4th infantry division to launch from its borders into Iraq presented a challenge to war planners who knew leaving the northern part of Iraq unattended could pose grave problems for the main body of U.S. forces driving on Baghdad from Kuwait.

At least 13 Iraqi divisions were known to occupy the area, while such a vast region also comprised a terrorist training camp belonging to Ansar Al-Islam, a new organization composed of Arab veterans of Afghanistan and Kurdish recruits.

This organization fought against Kurdish rebels from 2001 to 2003 and established an almost autonomous area around the town of Halabja. Furthermore militant Kurdish groups also aligned themselves with the group, and presented the greatest threat along the Turkish/Iraq border.

With the men and firepower of the 4th infantry division out of the picture, however, planners raced to implement something that might prove as effective, though less visible, and with far fewer personnel. They knew Kurdish rebels numbering up to 65,000 in the region were more than willing to fight alongside coalition forces if given the chance.