On June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded Normandy in the largest seaborne invasion in history. Now, another U.S.-led coalition is launching a final push to annihilate one of the evilest forces in modern history.
After months of waiting, the liberation of Raqqa is finally upon us. Syrian Democratic Forces and Kurdish militias — outfitted with American small arms and backed by U.S. military advisers, with a deluge of GPS-guided munitions from coalition aircraft — have reportedly launched a three-pronged attack on the de facto Syrian capital of ISIS’s “caliphate,” Operation Inherent Resolve announced on June 6.
The U.S.-led coalition has been slowly inching towards the Syrian city for several months, encircling the jihadi stronghold with fire-support bases of Marine-manned M777 Howitzers and Stryker armored fighting vehicles. It’s all part of the “annihilation campaign” articulated by Secretary of Defense Mattis in May, cutting off escape routes and preventing beleaguered ISIS forces from regrouping elsewhere in the war-torn country.
"We all saw the heinous attack in Manchester, England," CJTF-OIR commander Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend said in a statement June 6, referencing the recent suicide bombing of an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 dead. "ISIS threatens all of our nations, not just Iraq and Syria, but in our own homelands as well. This cannot stand."
Townsend added that coalition forces would continue to provide logistics, intelligence support, equipment, and training as part of its “advise and assist” relationship with the SDF. But the escalating air campaign against the jihadis is only heating up: On June 5, OIR aircraft conducted 40 airstrikes across 60 engagements with ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria.
"The coalition has a big role in the success of the operations. In addition to warplanes, there are coalition forces working side by side with the SDF,” a Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Talal Silo told Reuters, adding that clashes between coalition and ISIS forces "[would be] fierce because Daesh (ISIS) will die to defend their so-called capital.”
If the siege of Raqqa is anything like the Iraqi security forces’ dogged months-long effort to expunge that country’s ISIS infestation, the U.S.-led coalition is in for a long, bloody fight.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
An AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopter lands during a combined arms demonstration as part of South Carolina National Guard Air & Ground Expo 2009 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Oct. 10, 2009. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine)
Welcome to Confessions Of, an occaisional series where Task & Purpose's James Clark solicits hilarious, embarrassing, and revealing stories from troops and vets about their job, billet, or a tour overseas. Are you in an interesting assignment and think you might have something to share? Email email@example.com with your story.
"Nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine."
James Jackson, right, confers with his lawyer during a hearing in criminal court, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in New York. Jackson, a white supremacist, pled guilty Wednesday to killing a black man with a sword as part of a racist plot that prosecutors described as a hate crime. He faces life in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 13. (Associated Press/Bebeto Matthews)
White supremacist James Jackson – accused of trying to start a race war by killing a homeless black man in Times Square with a sword — pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder as an act of terrorism.
A soldier plugs his ears during a live fire mission at Yakima Training Center. Photo: Capt. Leslie Reed/U.S. Army
A Texas veteran is suing the company he says knowingly produced and sold defective earplugs which were issued to the U.S. military, leading him and many others to develop hearing problems, including tinnitus.