Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
ISIS Just Rage-Quit The Siege Of Mosul By Blowing Up An Ancient Mosque
Faced with the imminent loss of the beating heart of their Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, ISIS militants appear to have made a drastic decision: they just blew it up.
The Iraqi Security Forces, backed by steady support from the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, have steadily pushed toward the centuries-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul’s old city, the very site at which ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his so-called caliphate in August 2014. According to Reuters, members of the ISF’s elite Counter Terrorism Forces were within 300 yards of the building as of the morning of June 21.
For ISIS to opt to blow up the “Hunchback,” as the mosque was known, suggests that the terror group is sounding the death rattle in the strategically important city. The building was both an ancient Mosul landmark — its leaning minaret had towered over the city for hundreds of years— and an architectural symbol of the ISIS caliphate. The group’s black flag has reportedly flown from its walls ever since militants overran the city in a lightning assault during the summer of 2014. Not anymore.
ISIS, through its Amaq News Agency, has blamed the mosque’s destruction on a U.S. airstrike, and while details are still emerging, the group’s track record would suggest otherwise. ISIS has has made a habit of destroying antiquities of historical and cultural significance, including parts of the ruins in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. And the group had reportedly threatened to destroy the al-Nuri Mosque’s minaret at least once before.
In a statement, OIR commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend refuted the allegation, calling the destruction of the mosque by ISIS forces “another example that ISIS is cruel, heartless, and godless ideology that cannot be permitted to exist in this world.”
That the militants chose to destroy al-Nuri now indicates even they are aware of how close they are to defeat in Mosul.
Three years after al-Baghdadi established his “caliphate,” ISIS’s fortunes have taken a hard turn for the worse. The Iraqi Security Forces and U.S.-led coalition have carried out a grinding eight-month battle to retake the city, once the country’s second largest. The U.S.-led coalition has played a crucial role in the fight, hammering ISIS positions with repeated air and mortar strikes and deploying forces in “advise and assist” roles in and around Mosul. U.S. troop levels in Iraq have steadily increased since the beginning of the siege back in October; there are now reportedly around 6,000 U.S. troops in the country.
The fight for the city has been a brutal, street-by-street slog through avenues loaded with ISIS snipers, booby traps and roaming VBIEDS. While the ISF conquered the city’s eastern half within a few months, the fight for the western half has dragged on. There, ISIS fighters have retreated to the old city, a dense network of winding streets and narrow alleyways, the worst kind of place to hunt down militants.
The group’s fate in Mosul is nearly sealed. According to Iraqi army officials, only about 300 fighters remain in the city — just 5 percent of its initial strength. Increasing squeezed into the labyrinth of the old city, the group has put up staunch resistance throughout the course of the battle. But facing a vastly stronger opponent, one capable of raining hellfire from the sky, it’s really only a matter of time before the group completely loses its grip on Mosul.
A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.
The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and "engaged...in hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.
So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.