Marines Have Been Quietly Operating In ‘Hot Spots’ In Iraq

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U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command perform a security halt during a perimeter patrol in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, on March 21, 2016.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Rick Hurtad

Elements of a nine-month Middle East crisis response task force deployment that ended in December were dispatched on “specialized missions in Iraq,” and one such mission, known as Task Force Whiskey, called for a company-size unit of Marines to insert near Erbil — 50 miles southeast of Mosul — according to Military.com’s Hope Hodge Seck, who first reported on this story.


"We were the only one that could respond to it quickly enough to get forces into country, up near Erbil, to conduct that mission," Lt. Col. John Bossie, the task force operations officer, told Military.com.

Though details on the mission remain under wraps, it was described as being reconnaissance in nature and lasted between 90 and 100 days, reports Military.com.

The small-scale, in-and-out deployments of Marines to contentious areas of Iraq “may demonstrate a growing willingness of regional commanders to exploit the flexibility and availability of the task force in innovative ways,” Seck writes.

The Marine’s Middle East task force was also called upon to create exploitation and analysis cells, comprised of military police and law enforcement Marines who were responsible for confiscating and processing information left behind by Islamic State militants.

Related: Battle Of Mosul Veterans Reflect On Ongoing Offensive »

"As the clearance of Fallujah happened, a bunch of ISIS convoys were leaving Fallujah, and coalition forces struck the convoys as they were leaving," Bossie told Military.com. "We were able to use our human intelligence Marines as well as this exploitation-analysis cell to collect thumb drives and hard drives that came out of those convoys."

The information gained from that one convoy strike — 80 gigabytes of data — amounts to roughly 800,000 documents. The Task Force Marines were also tapped to support advise and assist operations for the 15th Iraqi Army Division, as they staged at the Qayyarah West airfield ahead of the push to enter Mosul, according to Military.com.

Photo: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.

Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.

It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.

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Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

It all began with a medical check.

Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.

It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.

Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.

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U.S. Army Cpt. Katrina Hopkins and Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers, assigned to Task Force Warhorse, pilot a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operation at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javion Siders)

U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.

However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

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Army Spc. Clayton James Horne

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Joshua Yabut/Twitter

The soldier who was arrested for taking an armored personnel carrier on a slow-speed police chase through Virginia has been found not guilty by reason of insanity on two charges, according to The Richmond-Times Dispatch.

Joshua Phillip Yabut, 30, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle — in this case, a 12-ton APC taken from Fort Pickett in June 2018 — and violating the terms of his bond, which stemmed from a trip to Iraq he took in March 2019 (which was not a military deployment).

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