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US Special Operations Forces Are On The Ground Fighting ISIS In Raqqa
When the U.S.-backed coalition marked the anniversary of D-Day by launching its much-anticipated siege against ISIS militants in Raqqa, the Syrian Democratic Forces and Kurdish militias who encircled the city for a three-pronged assault didn’t do so alone: U.S. special operators are fighting side-by-side with regional allies as they brace for a punishing, block-by-block expulsion of jihadists from their de facto capital.
“Coalition SOF are in Raqqa, and they are close to the front lines,” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon confirmed to Military Times on June 9.
The United States has contributed significant firepower to the long slog to Raqqa as part of its “advise and assist” mission, slowly deploying Marines with M777 howitzers to pop-up firebases on the outskirts of the city, delivering small arms and anti-tank weapons to SDF and Kurdish fighters, and calling in AH-64 Apache helicopters and air strikes to cover the insertion of U.S. military advisers among advancing regional allies
But now, boots are officially on the ground. And the arrival of special operations forces — the Obama and Trump administrations’ weapons of choice, already stretched thin by multiple deployments — signals that the coalition is girding itself for a long urban firefight, similar to what Iraqi security forces faced during the long siege of Mosul.
"We expect this to be a fight very similar," Dillon told Military Times, emphasizing that U.S. forces are not “kicking down doors” but advising Syrian forces on said door-kicking. "Not quite as built-up and as a dense urban terrain as we've seen in Mosul, but nonetheless ISIS has had almost three years to prepare for this fight, and we expect it to be very difficult."
Coalition troops may have to get their boots dirty in Raqqa sooner rather than later. SDF and Kurdish fighters are facing down more than 2,500 ISIS militants infesting the narrow rooftops and alleys of the city with deadly DIY rounds. On June 6th, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis affirmed that “hundreds” of U.S. troops are wrapped up in the operation to free the city
In March, the Pentagon was considering sending 1,000 more U.S. troops to help bolster the fight against ISIS, ordering the 75th Ranger Regiment to the city of Manbij west of Raqqa as a warning to Russian, Turkish, and Syrian fighters operating in the region. Weeks later, the DoD deployed 2,500 troops to Kuwait to stand ready to turn up the heat on the jihadists.
If the battle for Raqqa lasts longer than expected, it won’t be too long until conventional forces may be forced to dive into the fray.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.
After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.
But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.
That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.
After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.
"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.
Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.