In continuing with the hardline that President Donald Trump has taken with the radical jihadists known as ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, U.S. and coalition forces launched 25 separate strikes against the known terror group. Directing America’s finest, the United States military to bring the rain, raining Hell down on these radicals wreaking havoc across the Middle East. According to reports from the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, during the two-week period between March 16 and March 29, U.S. and coalition forces launched at least 25 separate strikes against ISIS.
In Syria, the fighting continues to center around Abu Kamal. Abu Kamal is a small town located near the border of Syria and Iraq. Coalition forces are working together as part of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).
OIR is the U.S. military’s operational name for the military intervention against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It includes campaigns in both countries. Since its launch on August 21, 2016, the U.S. Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps has been responsible for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR).
These forces are credited with destroying multiple ISIS targets including buildings, tunnel systems, tactical units, fighting positions and weapons caches. In the same area, U.S. forces also were successful in destroying a known ISIS Vehicle Bourne Improvised Explosive Device factory.
A building known to be an ISIS stronghold in Al-Shadaddi was also destroyed. This building was the site of a particularly brutal battle between the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and ISIS back in 2016.
Meanwhile, the fighting in Iraq remains largely dispersed over a variety of locations across the country with multiple strikes occurring near Hawijah, Qayyarah, and Ramadi over the last two weeks. U.S. and coalition forces reportedly destroyed ISIS boats, tactical units, vehicles, storage facilities as well as an ISIS-held cave complex.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces Central Command commander stated of the U.S. and coalition forces and the reason for the current strikes – “This coalition team of Airmen will build upon our Iraqi partner’s combat-proven capabilities to ensure a capable, affordable, professional and sustainable Iraqi Aviation Enterprise. Together with our Iraqi Security Forces partners, we will ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS in Iraq.”
Following the country’s liberation from ISIS’ physical presence, the coalition is transitioning to a more training-focused and building-partner-capacity role – decreasing overall coalition air support as the Iraqi Air Force assumes air missions, duties, and responsibilities necessary to ensure a lasting defeat of ISIS. The intention is that U.S. Air Force continues to reduce the role they play in the fight in Iraq.
US Special Operators also attacked ISIS in Afghanistan. Rare video of the attack was just released.
During a press briefing held earlier this week, Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Croft revealed details of the new training program being introduced to Iraqi Air Force pilots in an effort to reduce U.S. military intervention. The program, known as CAATTS (Coalition Aviation Advisory and Training Team), is focused on teaching leadership skills to qualified Iraqi pilots, so that they may begin to lead their own missions in support of Iraqi Security Forces and in turn defend themselves without U.S. intervention.
“Coalition air power in support of the Iraqi Security Forces has been extremely successful in the destruction of ISIS in Iraq.
From the herculean effort in Mosul, to the rapid victories in Tal Afar, Hawija, and westward through the Euphrates River Valley, the coalition supported the Iraqis through the by, with and through strategy.
This strategy has been wildly successful, enabling the Iraqi Security Forces to reclaim their territory from a barbaric enemy, while allowing the coalition to minimize its footprint in Iraq.
It is now our job to enhance these capabilities within the Iraqi aviation enterprise, and we will do this through our train, advise and assist mission.
To accomplish this mission, we stood up a Coalition Aviation Advisory and Training team, or CAAT, in early February that leverages U.S. and coalition forces already deployed to Iraq.
By the middle of this summer, the CAAT is projected to transition into a new Air Force Wing-Iraq, with the explicit mission of advancing the capabilities of the Iraqi aviation commands.
The formation of this training effort is a crucial step as we continue to assist the Iraqis in consolidating their gains after years of tough combat.
It is our goal to make them better as a partner in mission areas such as border security, protection of critical infrastructure, and the ability to defeat violent extremist organizations.
We will do this by working with pilots, technicians and planners to increase the effectiveness in areas such as basic and advanced flight training, support to Iraqi ground forces, medical evacuation, aircraft maintenance, and logistics.
The Iraqis have already achieved several milestones since the CAAT stood up, including reopening their air force academy in late February; and the Iraqi forward air controllers conducting a live-fire exercise in early March, where they successfully called in training air strikes from coalition aircraft for the first time ever.
The story of the fight against ISIS from the air is one of success, as these recent accomplishments demonstrate, and we look forward to working closely with the Iraqi aviation commands to build on those accomplishments.”
Croft reports that currently there are only roughly 20 to 25 qualified F-16 pilots in the Iraqi Air Force. This program hopes to change that and one day see Iraqi Air Forces shouldering the majority of the burden in Iraq.
Officials from the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve have not released names and details of the actual units involved in the strike effort. However, they did confirm both U.S. and coalition aircraft including fighter, bomber, and rotor-wing were all used.