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The Untold Stories Of Marine Special Ops 'Getting Some' Against ISIS
U.S. Marine Special Operators on the ground in Iraq and Syria in the coalition's anti-ISIS fight have been getting into plenty of direct combat going back to at least January 2016, according to award citations obtained by Task & Purpose.
Although President Barack Obama and Pentagon leaders often explained that the battle against ISIS was being waged "by and through" regional partners, with U.S. troops usually staying in the background safely behind the lines, documents from Marine Corps Special Operations Command show that "getting some" — in infantry parlance — wasn't just reserved for their partners.
I previously reported on three award citations for a Marine Special Operations team (also known as "Marine Raiders") that covered January 2016 to July 2016, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Now I can reveal another set of slightly-redacted awards, this time covering July 2016 to January 2017.
For actions during that period in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, a special ops element leader (typically a Staff Sgt. or above) and assistant element leader (typically a sergeant) received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Award (with combat distinguishing device) for their actions in fighting ISIS, which at times were firing at them with accurate machine-gun fire, recoilless rifles, and mortars.
For example, while working with the Peshmerga to isolate the then-ISIS held city of Mosul, the element leader's position came under heavy fire from 82mm mortars and recoilless rifles, his award citation said. Exposed to the fire and disregarding his own safety, however, he fired a total of 88 mortar rounds back at the enemy, resulting in 24 killed.
And during two operations with partner forces, his teammate exposed himself to "withering fire" and suppressed the enemy as they fired a "heavy volume of accurate" machine-gun fire toward his position. Later, during another large operation, the assistant element leader executed a successful mission with mortars to take out an ISIS sniper, all while he was being bracketed by their own guns.
The third citation is for a Navy Corpsman, who served in the same company as the two previously mentioned Marines, but on a different team, from July 2016 to January 2017, a spokesman for Marine SOC confirmed.
According to the citation, the special operations independent duty corpsman (a specialized and more rigorously-trained version of the Navy "Doc") came under heavy fire from concealed enemy positions roughly 500 meters away during an operation on Aug. 27, 2016. As his teammates sought cover behind vehicles, the doc threw smoke to obscure their position and grabbed a MK13 sniper rifle and suppressed the enemy positions "until all were silenced."
Then in Oct. 20, 2016, the corpsman "exposed himself" to withering enemy fire as he conducted remedial action on a vehicle-mounted machine gun so he could return fire during an ISIS counterattack.
Although Marine Corps Special Operations Command redacted the operators' names, ranks, and units, at least now we can peel back the onion on some of their stories. The full citations are below:
Marine Special Operations Command
Marine Special Operations Command
Marine Special Operations Command
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.