Even More US-Made Anti-Tank Weapons Are Turning Up In ISIS Hands

Gear
Raw footage posted to YouTube by Iraqi television station Al-Mawsleya appears to show an FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile and launcher among a cache of weapons recovered just outside Tal Afar, Iraq.
Photo via Al-Mawsleya TV/YouTube

With the heart of ISIS’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Mosul in ruins and Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Baghdad to assess the U.S.-led campaign against the terror group, Iraqi security forces are working overtime to expunge more than 2,000 militants from the strategically crucial city of Tal Afar. The offensive could signal “the end of ISIS’s military presence” in the country’s northern region, according to a spokesman for the U.S. coalition, but the ISF and their Western military partners have run into a familiar obstacle: American-made anti-tank weapons.


Raw footage posted to YouTube by Iraqi television station Al-Mawsleya appears to show an FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile and launcher among a cache of weapons recovered just outside Tal Afar. The Javelin has a range of up to 2.7 miles with an 18-pound tandem warhead (two shaped charges, one to pierce reactive armor the other to wreak havoc) and designed to penetrate even the toughest armor — including the skin of the Pentagon’s beloved M1 Abrams tank.

The discovery of the Javelin is disturbing. Despite ISIS’s reliance on unconventional weaponry like their beloved vehicle-borne IEDs, this isn’t the first time militants have wielded heavier American-made weapons against the very troops meant to carry them. An ISIS propaganda video released in June 2015, after the capture of the Syrian city of Palmyra, revealed militants targeting Syrian government forces with U.S.-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles. One year later, the same missiles, allegedly fired by U.S.-backed Syrian rebels, were used to down a Russian Mi-25 assault helicopter.

It’s likely ISIS fighters came upon the Javelin in the same way it acquires most of its other conventional weapons: by looting Syrian and Iraqi military weapons caches. A 2003 Government Accountability Office report published after the invasion of Iraq found that at least 36 Javelin missile command launch-units had gone missing in the country as a result of lax chain-of-custody standards at U.S. weapons depots. If more are in enemy hands, those launchers would be added to the tons of armored vehicles, Humvees, artillery, surface-to-air missiles, and Turkish variants of the U.S.-made M72 LAW anti-tank weapons and Russian RPGs that are confirmed to be in ISIS’s arsenal. Most of those arms were simply abandoned by the Iraqi Army and left for militants to pick up.

But the anti-tank weapons like the Javelin and TOW didn’t just turn up in Iraq and Syria amid the chaos of the 2003 invasion: they were sent there more recently by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria. Under Timber Sycamore, the covert CIA program established during the Obama administration to arm Syrian rebels locked in a protracted civil war against the Bashar al-Assad regime, at least 500 TOW missiles were reportedly transferred through Saudi Arabia to the Free Syrian Army in late 2015. And in February 2016 Washington Post reporter and Marine veteran Thomas Gibbons-Neff identified a Javelin in the hands of Kurdish YPG forces at work in northern Syria. (The Pentagon and State Department both denied sending any anti-tank weapons to regional forces fighting ISIS in Syria.)

In July, President Donald Trump moved to end Timber Sycamore, telling the Wall Street Journal, ”It turns out it’s — a lot of al-Qaeda we’re giving these weapons to.” He’s not totally wrong: the complex mosaic of rebel forces operating in a theater defined by complicated and shifting allegiances makes weapons transfers an even riskier proposition than arming the Afghan security forces in Kabul. Indeed, the Pentagon announced on July 27 that it would for the first time end of military support for a Syrian rebel group for pursuing objectives outside of OIR’s strict anti-ISIS mandate, namely going AWOL from the At Tanf garrison that saw escalating clashes and tensions between OIR and pro-regime forces this summer.

Screenshot via Al Emarah Studio

A screencap from the “Omari Army 5" propaganda video appears to show a Taliban fighter wielding an FN SCAR rifle

But despite all that, the Trump administration has continued to pursue weapons transfers to the Syrian Democratic Forces, as if the new program is without the problems that made Timber Sycamore a goldmine for American “allies” in Syria. As we’ve noted before, the Pentagon is shit at monitoring weapons transfers: A 2016 analysis revealed that DoD could barely account for half of the 1.5 million weapons provided to Afghan and Iraqi security forces since the start of the invasions there, while, while a previous 2014 report found 43% of the weapons the ANSF received simply vanished. All of these weapons flow freely between ISIS forces across the Middle East.

Perhaps the appearance of the Javelin in an ISIS cache will induce the administration to reconsider its arms transfers to the SDF. If a Taliban fighter can wave around a fully accessorized SOCOM 7.62mm assault rifle, what makes the DoD think he can’t get his hand on a U.S. anti-tank missile? In July, Gibbons-Neff received a flaccid answer to that question from OIR spokesman Col. Ryan S. Dillon: “Whenever we sign up for something, you know, we go through every serial number.” Fat fucking chance.

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Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.

"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.

"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."

The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.

On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

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Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

President Donald Trump has ended the decade-long saga of Maj. Matthew Golsteyn by ordering a murder charge against the former Green Beret dismissed with a full pardon.

The Army charged Golsteyn with murder in December 2018 after he repeatedly acknowledged that he killed an unarmed Afghan man in 2010. Golsteyn's charge sheet identifies the man as "Rasoul."

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(Screenshot from 'Leavenworth')

President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who had been convicted of murder for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men, two of whom were killed.

Lorance will now be released from the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been serving a 19-year sentence.

"He has served more than six years of a 19-year sentence he received. Many Americans have sought executive clemency for Lorance, including 124,000 people who have signed a petition to the White House, as well as several members of Congress," said a White House statement released Friday.

"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, 'when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'"

Additionally, Trump pardoned Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who was to go on trial for murder charges next year, and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, who was found not guilty of murdering a wounded ISIS prisoner but convicted of taking an unauthorized photo with the corpse.

Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth first announced on Nov. 4 that the president was expected to intervene in the Lorance case was well as exonerate Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who has been charged with murder after he admitted to killing an unarmed Afghan man whom he believed was a Taliban bomb maker, and restore Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's rank to E-7.

For the past week, members of Lorance's family and his legal team have been holding a constant vigil in Kansas anticipating his release, said Lorance's attorney Don Brown.

Now that he has been exonerated of committing a war crime, Lorance wants to return to active duty, Brown told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

"He loves the Army," Brown said prior to the president's announcement. "He doesn't have any animosity. He's hoping that his case – and even his time at Leavenworth – can be used for good to deal with some issues regarding rules of engagement on a permanent basis so that our warfighters are better protected, so that we have stronger presumptions favoring warfighters and they aren't treated like criminals on the South Side of Chicago."

In the Starz documentary "Leavenworth," Lorance's platoon members discuss the series of events that took place on July 2, 2012, when the two Afghan men were killed during a patrol in Kandahar province.They claim that Lorance ordered one of his soldiers to fire at three Afghan men riding a motorcycle. The three men got off their motorcycle and started walking toward Afghan troops, who ordered them to return to their motorcycle.

At that point, Lorance ordered the turret gunner on a nearby Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to shoot the three men, according to the documentary. That order was initially ignored, but the turret gunner eventually opened fire with his M-240, killing two of the men.

But Lorance told the documentary makers that his former soldiers' account of what happened was "ill-informed."

"From my experience of what actually went down, when my guy fired at it, and it kept coming, that signified hostile intent, because he didn't stop immediately," Lorance said in the documentary's second episode.

Brown argues that not only is Lorance innocent of murder, he should never have been prosecuted in the first case.

"He made a call and when you look at the evidence itself, the call was made within a matter of seconds," Brown said "He would make that call again."

The new Call of Duty Modern Warfare takes gaming to a new level. In fact, it's the best damn video game of 2019 (in my humble opinion).

You can watch video of the awesome gameplay for CoD above, and make sure to follow the Task & Purpose team on Twitch here.

This post was sponsored by GoatGuns.Com. Use the code TP15 for 15% off your next order.

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