America loves a hero sniper. Consider Chris Kyle, the veteran Navy SEAL who became the stuff of legend well before publishing his 2012 autobiography “American Sniper,” with more than 160 kills confirmed by the Pentagon during his four tours in Iraq. Or Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart, the Delta Force snipers posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their bravery during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, actions immortalized in “Black Hawk Down.” Or Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock II, who established a Scout Sniper School at Quantico, Virginia, after returning home from the Vietnam War. Alone with his rifle, the sniper is the embodiment of the one-man army.
Now, Iraq has its own expert marksman to celebrate: Yousef Ali, a 20-year-old Iraqi federal policeman who, with the help of a Russian-made Dragunov sniper rifle, is helping Iraqi security forces and the U.S.-led coalition take back the city of Mosul inch by inch, block by block.
Since Western-backed forces began their advance on Mosul in earnest in February, six months after the initial military offensive by Iraqi forces, ISIS has put up fierce resistance with their own barrage of mortar shells and sniper fire — constant threats lurking behind burned-out houses and mountains of rubble. USA Today’s Igor Kossov embedded with Ali to get a first-hand look at the task facing the warfighters of the multinational coalition:
Through the small hole in the wall of an abandoned hotel, Ali saw the labyrinth of the Old City's narrow streets stretch before him.
Less than 300 yards away, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, prepared for another sneak attack, surrounded by civilian human shields. "The (ISIS fighters) are out there," said the 20-year-old Iraqi federal policeman, taking his eyes off the scope for a moment. "Just behind those buildings."…
"Two or three days ago, (ISIS) set some fires to make a smokescreen, then some of them came at us with suicide belts," Ali said. "I killed two of them."
Tales of incredible marksmanship in ongoing campaigns against the ISIS caliphate have become the equivalent of war porn for faraway observers. In January, British tabloids ran the thinly-sourced story of a SAS sniper who took out three ISIS fighters “prepared to fire into a crowd of women and children they had told to halt.” And who can forget the tale of 63-year-old Abu Tahseen, Iraqi veteran of five wars, who claimed last year to have killed more than 173 fighters since May 2015?
But that’s the beauty of the Kossov’s profile of Ali. The young Iraqi policeman is less a superhuman marksman and more a courageous young man doing his job — and following his training:
Ali said it had been his dream to become a sniper since he joined police basic training.
After 45 days of basics, he was accepted into sniper training, spending six months becoming acquainted with the specialization under Iraqi and Italian trainers in Baghdad and Fallujah. The training paid off when he was thrust into the Mosul offensive with his M-16 and Dragunov rifles, Ali said.
Of course, Ali maintains a friendly rivalry with his fellow snipers: After all, who doesn’t want to be the next Chris Kyle?
"We always hear everything that's going over the radio. So sometimes we'll say, 'Oh, I killed more (ISIS fighters) than you, you better try harder,'" he told USA Today. "But we all treat each other as brothers here."
U.S. troops rejoice — the midnight curfew for service members in South Korea has been temporarily suspended, as command evaluates if you can be trusted to not act like wild animals in the streets of Pyeongtaek.
Late last month Activision's Infinity Ward dropped a teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — a soft-reboot of one of it's most beloved games — and just two weeks after the May 30 reveal, the game developer unveiled some new details on what's in store for the first-person shooter's multiplayer: Juggernaut and ghillie suits!
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - At least 30 people have been killed in a triple suicide attack in northeast Nigerian state of Borno, state emergency officials said on Monday, in the biggest mass killing this year by suicide bombers.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Your humble Pentagon correspondent has never been one of the "cool kids" in the world of Washington media, and never has that been more evident than in my failed attempts to interview Navy veteran Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and one of the roughly 50,000 Democrats running for president.
To the media, Buttigieg is so hot right now that he could melt the stealth coating off an F-35 – which is actually not as hard as it sounds. He is fluent in more forms of communication than C-3PO – in April, he offered his condolences to the French people for the Notre Dame fire in perfect French. He's had no problem getting media coverage from all sorts of media outlets, including National Public Radio, the New York Times, or even Fox News.
Your intrepid Pentagon correspondent was briefly on Mayor Pete's schedule, when his director of campaign operations Max Harris set up an interview for Feb. 26. But less than an hour later, Harris emailed back to say he might have to reschedule the interview due to scheduling conflicts.
Four months of silence followed. (To be fair, his campaign manager Lis Smith did confirm in March that Buttigieg had formed an exploratory committee to run for president.)