Iowa guardsmen help nab top Afghan militant


April 27th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Image from Ryan's FaceBook page (used w/his permission)

An Iowa National Guardsman from Cass County is one of several soldiers credited with the recent capture of a highly sought insurgent financier in Afghanistan’s Paktia province. The Army says the arrest of the unnamed insurgent came April 17th near Gardez. The man was among four men in a car that was stopped during a sweep performed by members of the Guard’s 1-168th Battalion, the Afghan National Army and the local police.

Members of the battalion’s D Company identified the suspect using photos and other evidence. Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Johnson, from Griswold, told a Des Moines Register reporter the insurgent’s capture equates to taking the legs off of a table one-by-one. Eventually, he says, The whole thing’s going to collapse.” Johnson said the financier was “One of those legs, and now the table is wobbling.” Ryan is on leave from the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, while serving on active duty in the military.

The Army says the operation also uncovered two homemade bombs. At one point, insurgents lobbed four mortar rounds and fired rifles at guardsmen who were trying to pull an armored truck out of the mud. The soldiers tracked the firing to a house, where Afghan officials arrested five people who allegedly had gunpowder residue on their hands. The mortar tube was not found, but Guard leaders declared the overall operation a success.

Company D Commander, Capt. Kent Greiner said “We’ve definitely taken the wind out of the sails of the insurgents for a while.” He added that they’re “Striking a nerve with them, and we’re going to keep striking that nerve to see what happens.”