War on Terrorism

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Coalition Effort Aims at Stability in Iraq, Syria


By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The coalition continues to help forces in both Iraq and Syria establish security and stability in areas that have known nothing but oppression since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria reared its head five years ago, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve said today.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters from Baghdad, Army Col. Sean Ryan noted that Iraqi forces are working together across the country to rid the nation of the last remnants of the terrorist group.

“The various security elements -- to include the [Iraqi forces], the peshmerga, counterterrorism services and the federal police -- are all working together to continue securing their country,” he said.

In Ninevah province, Iraqi forces continue to find and disarm improvised explosive devices and continue to root out ISIS holdouts. In the mountains of Kirkuk, the Iraqi federal police and the Kurdish peshmerga work together to secure remote villages.

Out west, in Anbar province, border security forces continue to prevent ISIS fighters from streaming into the country, the colonel said.

“For its part, the coalition is … enabling the [Iraqi] efforts to secure Iraq by advising strategic leaders, training thousands of Iraqi service members and divesting equipment they need to effectively secure their country,” he said.

Coalition members also continue to train Iraqi forces. Since the effort started in 2015, coalition forces have trained more than 175,000 Iraqis in basic soldier skills and specialized fields such as intelligence, law enforcement, medical support and aviation.

Syria

In Syria, the picture is more complex and dangerous. Ground operations for Phase 3 of Operation Roundup have begun, and Syrian partner forces continue clearance of the Middle Euphrates River Valley, Ryan said. “Hajin and the surrounding villages are the last remaining territory acquired by ISIS in the coalition's area of responsibility, and the victory by the Syrian Democratic Forces there will mean that ISIS no longer holds territory,” he added.

ISIS fighters are trying desperately to hang onto the territory, and hard fighting lies ahead, the colonel told reporters. “Despite this, we are confident that the SDF will prevail,” he said.

In Tanf earlier this month, Marines conducted training to reinforce partner forces, he said. “The coalition has supported the SDF through air support, as well as training and equipment,” Ryan said. “Additionally, in liberated areas, the coalition trained internal security forces to maintain the peace and security in liberated cities, provide basic law enforcement support, as well as specialized services such as counter-[improvised explosive devices] and engineering.”

Ryan noted changes in Iraq as Army Lt. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve from Army Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II.

Ryan said the military stabilization efforts are going well, but are not enough. “Security creates the space for rebuilding,” he explained. “Residents only gain hope for the future when their children can go to school free from harm, women go buy basic necessities in local shops, and when they can go to their jobs that allow them to support their families. Ultimately, the military cannot fight its way to stability.”

The cost of reconstruction is high, with estimates of rebuilding Mosul -- Iraq’s second-largest city -- pegged at $100 billion. “We call on all nations to help those who have sacrificed tremendously fighting this global threat,” Ryan said.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Wisconsin Man in State Custody Indicted for Hate Crime by Threatening Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin


WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that a federal grand jury in Wisconsin returned an indictment charging Chadwick Grubbs, 33, with obstruction and attempted obstruction of the free exercise of religious beliefs, by mailing threats on three separate dates in May to the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay. In addition to three religious obstruction charges, the indictment also charges Grubbs with three counts of mailing threatening communications and one count of threatening to injure and destroy property by fire and an explosive.

The defendant is currently being held in state custody on separate cases.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The FBI is leading the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Haanstad of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorney Kathryn Gilbert of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting this case.

Coalition Soldiers Train Iraqi Mortar Troops


By Army 1st Lt. Caleb Walkup, 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment

IRAQ -- Mortar instructors from the U.S, Australia and New Zealand trained Iraqi troops on the use of their recently acquired M120 mortar systems, Sep. 1-12.

The new mortar systems replaced the Iraqis’ Serbian 120 millimeter mortars. The M120 system is more accurate, has additional safety features, and increases the Iraqi army’s ability to deliver indirect fires in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Army officials said.

The U.S. soldiers, from Bandit Troop, 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, worked alongside mortar instructors from the 6th Royal Australian Regiment and the New Zealand military to train more than 70 members of the Iraqi mortar brigade.

“The Australians themselves had never fired the M120 mortar system so when they found out there were some Americans here who had experience on it they quickly asked for our assistance,” said Army Staff Sgt. Merrell Dews, an Infantry Mortar Leader Course qualified noncommissioned officer and Bandit Troop’s mortar section leader. “Of course we were more than happy to oblige.”

Training

The mortar training event was the second of three sessions and allowed the U.S. and Australian advisors to share their standard operating procedures for the M120 mortar system with the Iraqi troops.

The first session took place Aug. 18-23 and allowed the Iraqi mortarmen to show the instructors their current SOPs and methods.

One surprise for many of the U.S. troops was that many of the Iraqi soldiers were in their 40s and 50s, while many U.S. soldiers are in their early 20s.

“They’re much older and more experienced than what I originally thought they would be,” Dews said, “I can tell these men have been firing mortars for many years.”

One of the Iraqi mortarmen said he had been in the Iraqi army for over 34 years.

“Hypeman,” as the veteran Iraqi soldier is affectionately referred to by the Bandit Troop mortarmen, said, “I take pride in working with American soldiers because I know the importance of remaining prepared to defend Iraq.”

Hypeman is known for keeping all the other Iraqi soldiers motivated and always expressing enthusiasm to learn from the U.S. and Australian instructors.

“Every day we train with them on this new system their motivation and skill increases,” Army Sgt. Trevor Cacciatore said.

The Iraqis they are training are not just mortarmen, but also forward observers and fire direction center personnel that participated in the training in order to build an operational understanding of these new weapon systems on the battlefield.

“Even the officers take part in the training,” Army Spc. Brandyn Brownfield said. “Everyone who is there participates and takes the time to learn the system.”

The final session, scheduled for October, will allow the Iraqi mortar teams to refine their SOPs and finally put their skills to the test by firing live rounds in a Mortar Training and Evaluation Program exercise.

This exercise will allow them to certify on the M120 mortar system and show that they are qualified to conduct real-life fire missions against ISIS and more effectively secure their nation against attack.