Artillery Marines Head To Syria Ahead Of Raqqa Offensive

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U.S. Marines assigned to Fox Battery in support of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire an M777 A2 howitzer at an indirect firing range outside Camp Buehring, Kuwait on April 23.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan

A contingent of artillery Marines recently arrived in Syria to support friendly forces isolating Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State, according to Marine Corps Times.


Though U.S. Central Command did not identify the unit now in Syria, Marine Corps Times’ Jeff Schogol noted that they seem likely to belong to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is in the region on a scheduled deployment with USS Bataan’s amphibious ready group. On April 23, the 24th MEU posted a photo to the unit’s Facebook page, showing artillery Marines at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, firing M777 A2 howitzers at an artillery range.

If the recently arrived Marines are in fact from the 24th MEU, this marks the third time in just over a year that artillery Marines from a MEU have deployed to establish or man a semi-permanent fire base in support of ground operations against the Islamic State.

Related: Marine Expeditionary Unit Returns Home From Syria Deployment »

The first was in March 2016, when roughly 180 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit established Fire Base Bell, in Iraq, and fired more than 2,000 artillery rounds from their Howitzers over a two-and-a-half month stretch in support of Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Mosul. The forward-positioned fire base came under frequent fire and on March 19, 2016, Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed, and eight other Marines were wounded in an ISIS attack on the base. The artillery Marines were eventually replaced by an Army battery in 2016.

Then in March of this year, Marines from the 11th MEU arrived in Syria, where they pre-positioned howitzers to provide artillery support for friendly ground forces. Based on Marine Corps Times’ coverage, it appears the newly arrived Marines — ostensibly from the 24th MEU — have taken over that mission. News of the 11th MEU’s arrival in Syria came to light around the same time that Army Strykers belonging to the 75th Ranger Regiment were spotted in Northeast Syria, Task & Purpose’s Adam Linehan reported in March.

The 11th MEU is on its way home to San Diego, California, and is slated to arrive later this week.

A Marine expeditionary unit offers commanders and leaders flexibility in conducting humanitarian aid missions, and functions as a hard-hitting and highly versatile tool for waging war. When joined by an amphibious readiness group, a Marine expeditionary unit functions as a self-contained fighting force, able to put troops ashore, and provide them with air, fires and logistical support.

(National Archives / Marine Corps Photo / WO Obie Newcomb, Jr., November 1943)

The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.

The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Daniel Snider)

Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.

During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.

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MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.

Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.

State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.

North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.

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Screenshot of a propaganda video featuring former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan

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The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."

Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.

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A member of the Taliban holds a flag in Kabul, Afghanistan June 16, 2018. The writing on the flag reads: 'There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah'. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail)

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"That is a moving date because we are still doing consultations, if you will," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters.

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