ISIS

Navy SEAL Killed in Iraq War Fight Against ISIS

Obama administration insists no "conventional ground troops and ground force operations on the ground".

|

Defense

A Navy SEAL became the third U.S. casualty in Iraq since combat troops were returned to the country in 2014. 

A defense department spokesperson said the unidentified SEAL was killed in a firefight "three to five kilometers behind the forward line of troops", near Mosul, after Islamic State (ISIS) fighters broke through the line, according to CNN.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters in Germany that the casualty illustrated "it's a serious fight that we have to wage in Iraq."

There are 3,000 U.S. troops conducting combat missions in Iraq, and they've been joined by 250 additional troops in Syria, bringing the official total in that country of U.S. troops to 300. The Obama administration has resisted the idea that there are "boots on the ground" in Iraq and Syria.

"They are wearing boots and they are on the ground," a State Department spokesperson explained in a daily press briefing last week. "But that doesn't mean that they are in large-scale ground combat operations." The spokesperson, John Kirby, insisted the press was "wrapped around the axle on the phrase 'boots on the ground.'"

"Yes, there's boots on the ground.  We've got pilots that have been flying airstrikes since August of 2014. Don't tell me and don't tell them or their families that they're not involved in actual combat over Iraq and Syria," Kirby continued. "But that's a big difference between that and saying we're going to involve ourselves in conventional ground troops and ground force operations on the ground, which we have not done and there are no plans to do it."

The Navy SEAL killed today was characterized by defense officials as an advisor to the Peshmerga, Kurdish forces. An anonymous official told the Washington Post ISIS broke through the front line using armored vehicles carrying explosives that were followed bv combat troops behind them.

A commander with the Nineveh Protections Unit, a mostly Christian local militia recognized by the government in Baghdad, described the attack to the Post.

"American special forces came to rescue us with four vehicles," Bahnam Aboush told the Post. "They opened the way for us to retreat then one of their vehicles was hit." Aboush blamed "limited capabilities" and "old rifles" on the inability of his forces to defend against the ISIS attack.

U.S. troops returned to Iraq in the campaign against ISIS in 2014. The last U.S. combat troops previously departed Iraq in 2011 after President Obama tried, but failed, to extend the presence of combat troops in the country. He took credit for ending the Iraq war in his 2012 re-election bid, but later insisted the 2011 pull-out was not his decision.

When it bothers to, the Obama administration argues the campaign against ISIS is covered by the 9/11-rleated authorization of the use of military force (AUMF) against Al Qaeda (of which ISIS is an offshoot-cum-competitor) and "associated forces." President Obama requested authorization of the use of military force specifically for ISIS but has not received it. A 2014 effort to repeal the 2002 AUMF on Iraq failed, with both it and the 2001 AUMF remaining in force and Congress doing little about it and the U.S. military campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere that those AUMFs have helped justify.

NEXT: Republicans Are Coming Around to Donald Trump. Of Course They Are.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. You realize that a spec ops soldier getting greased is consistent with the Parsin’ President’s statement that there are no conventional ground troops, etc.?

    1. I wonder whether these soldiers even get combat pay since the the Liar in Chief has denoted this as a finished campaign.

      1. In lieu of Purple Hearts, there will be Green (eco) Hearts, with Obama’s little profile-portrait instead of that slaver Washington.

  2. Damn warmongering cockkkthuglicunts

    1. I believe the proper term is “prunts”.

      1. This is a good word. May it live.

        1. Sadly, it was already a word:

          A prunt is a small blob of glass fused to another piece of glass.

          Although the definition does give a few chuckles with our proposed meaning.

          Prunts are applied primarily as decoration, but also help provide a firm grip in the absence of a handle. Prunts may be impressed into decorative shapes, such as raspberries, blackberries, or lion’s heads.

          1. “Santorum” was also already a word.

            I say we carry on!

          2. I agree with Rich. The word is sufficiently obscure and has a primary meaning unrelated to the secondary meaning we are trying to assign to it.

            1. I’m not arguing. I actually think the second half of the definition is perfect for our usage.

  3. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters in Germany that the casualty illustrated “it’s a serious fight that we have to wage in Iraq.”

    Oh, FFS! Just shut up!

    1. “Don’t mention the war serious fight!”

      1. Exactly. But do mention it’s a *minimum* wage. 8-(

    2. The notion that one dead soldier is the sign of a serious fight is off by orders of magnitude, but why expect the SecDef to know that?

  4. RE: Navy SEAL Killed in Iraq War Fight Against ISIS
    Obama administration insists no “conventional ground troops and ground force operations on the ground”.

    This cannot be correct.
    Dear Leader said he would not put any troops in Iraq.
    The death of the brave Navy SEAL must be a typo.

    1. CONVENTIONAL troops, Uncle. Ladies and gentlemen, the Parsin’ President .

      1. A Marine died last month.

  5. Advising is deadly serious.

  6. The anti-war left is all over this, right?

    1. They will be holding candlelight vigils and holding “Obama End the War!” and “Stop the Killing!” signs, I’m certain.

    2. Oh, they’re over it, alright.

      1. Good one, RC. For a few more months, anyway.

    3. *Checks little letter next to the president’s name.

      Well the letter is a D so they’re in hibernation. The liberal anti-war activist (Antibellum liberalis) is a fickle species, unlike the rarer but more robust principled anti-war proponent (Antibellum ipsum). The Antibellum liberatis frequently exhausts all of its energy (possibly because the species tends to be louder and more obnoxious than the Antibellum ipsum, a lifestyle that is more exhaustive) and thus needs to periodically spend its time in hibernation. Antibellum liberalis has adapted so that its hibernation cycles line up with the letter that appears next to the president’s name. When the letter is D, they retreat to their burrows for hibernation, to awaken only when the letter changes to an R, taking advantage of its unique biological function dubbed by scientists as “Seasonal Partisan Hibernation Pattern”, more commonly known by its common English name “Hypocrisy”.

      1. Well-done, EBS. “Seasonal Partisan Hibernation Pattern” – I’m stealing that.

      2. That’s some good shit.

      3. “Seasonal Partisan Hibernation Pattern”, more commonly known by its common English name “Hypocrisy”.

        It seems to me that this observation can be easily applied to many of those who identify as “R”, as well.

        I recall that President Clinton’s decision with regards to Bosina animated many Republicans to voice their opposition.

  7. I like the bullshit line “not involved in major combat operations” – of course they aren’t, because they are a very small force but just happens to be in, you know, a huge ass active free-fire zone. WTF. The press is useless.

    1. “not involved in major combat operations”

      Like the folks who get to “push the button”.

    2. It’s very useful in letting the Obamessiah cover his ass.

    3. “American special forces came to rescue us with four vehicles,” Bahnam Aboush told the Post.

      I wonder if any of our special forces (who are not involved in combat, yet manage to come to the rescue of a bunch of Kurds who are in combat) are wearing boots?

    1. Abu Hajaar the Horrible?

      1. Pretty much.

        Seriously, you got to watch this shit. It’s hilarious.

        1. Oh, I watched it. It is *awesome*.

        2. Hilarious in a disturbing way.

        3. Thanks, HM. That was funny as shit.

          1. Most welcome.

            We’ve all known an Abu Hajeer at one point in our lives, no?

            1. Who do you reckon is the Abu Hajaar of the commentariat?

              1. We’ve all had Abu Hajaar days.

                1. True that.

              2. “Who do you reckon is the Abu Hajaar of the commentariat?”

                Jackhand Ace.

                1. Edit: change ‘Jackhand Ace’ to ‘Cytotoxic’.

        4. As one of the commenters said, that Abu Hajar guy is the Carl of ISIS.

    2. Best comment:

      “Press F1 to vote kick Abu hajar so we can get a bot please.?”

  8. There’s one bright side of a Trump Presidency, the anti War movement will finally come back with their giant papier-m?ch? heads.

    1. Now, with realistic unlifelike hair!

    2. This. And hopefully an antagonistic media might return.

  9. There are 3,000 U.S. troops conducting combat missions in Iraq, and they’ve been joined by 250 additional troops in Syria, bringing the official total in that country of U.S. troops to 300. The Obama administration has resisted the idea that there are “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria.

    From the Military Times as of late March =

    Currently, the U.S. force level in Iraq is officially capped at 3,870. But privately, defense officials say the real number is closer to 5,000 when accounting for troops considered to be there on “temporary” deployment.

    Among those temporary troops was Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin, of Temecula, California, who was killed March 19 in an ISIS rocket on Fire Base Bell in northern Iraq

    Its also notable that article was pointing out “and More are currently being sent”

    Any other country in the world that had 5,000 or so troops deployed in a combat role overseas would be described as “At War”. Yet everyone in the media goes happily along with the suggestion that this is all just part of our normal diplomatic role ‘aiding allies’ (even though the Iraqis themselves don’t like us ‘helping’)

    1. (even though the Iraqis themselves don’t like us ‘helping’)

      Hey! I just heard on some talking head show that the Iraqi Army *loves* us!

    2. I like the way the cap is just blown off. “Eh, whatever, send a few thou more over.”

    3. Just going to point out that that the troop commitment is basically the same as if Obama didn’t pull out and had actually tried to negotiate keeping troops there. in 2011.

      1. Meh. I think it was 11,000 or so when we left.

        Which i think still makes your point broadly correct. That’s the “Force Level” that the US would *like* to have at the moment to actually achieve the goals [which they aren’t stating but which they implicitly suggest] we’re obligated to be focused on.

        1. By the end of the negotiations Obama had pushed the number down to 5,000. 10k was off the table.

          With the Obama administration, they seem to have a pretty solid rule that whatever the generals ask for, they cut it in half. And then sometimes further. I remember some article from a few years ago where they had sources saying that they just ask for double what they really want or think are realistic at this point.

  10. So the State thought, when we said we wanted no boots on the ground, that we wanted military conflict there, just not done in a conventional manner. So they promised us “no boots on the ground.”

    When in reality we had meant we didn’t want anyone over there fighting at all, you assholes.

  11. The Navy SEAL killed today was characterized by defense officials as an advisor to the Peshmerga, Kurdish forces.

    Advisor. You know who else has military advisors? Hollywood. QED, in a way, this was all made up.

  12. This seems eerily reminiscent of the SEALs screwup in Panama; trying to take Patilla Airport with a team instead of using Army Rangers. Granted it has been a LONG time since I was in the military but Army SF soldiers are there to be advisors to indigenous forces, not SEALs. Has that changed?

    1. The SEALs have the PR edge, and an apparently unlimited desire for more.

      Nobody stops to ask “WTF are Navy personnel doing in a goddam landlocked desert, anyway?”

      1. “The ‘L’ is for ‘Land’.”

        1. But why does the Navy even need to have combat teams operating far inland in a landlocked desert?

          1. Because they’re a global force for good.

            1. Ah, yes, they need to access the one quarter of the globe that isn’t water.

            2. Much like Keith David, the Navy refuses orders to put on sunglasses.

            3. Man, that slogan make me uncomfortable. I don’t recall ‘global force for good’ being part of the oath I took. But, that was almost 30 years ago.

              1. Man, that slogan [“a global force for good”] make me uncomfortable.

                When I first saw an Air Force recruitment billboard enjoining individuals to sign up to be part of “a global force for good” I also became uncomfortable.

                The paradigm/shift away from “serving/protecting ones country” to what the billboard implied was, and still is, very disconcerting to me.

          2. Because Navy Seals, contrary to their service branch, aren’t super useful at sea.

            1. They started as underwater demo teams, mainly to clear landing beaches. They branched out mainly during Viet Nam, on account of the fighting in the delta, if memory serves.

              Mission creep, its not just for civilians.

            2. They did kill a few Somali pirates.

              1. The Marines could have done that. That was the work of a skilled sniper.

      2. Why does every combat branch need their own aircraft?

        1. *** sends email to Bernie ***

        2. So they can pay more for parts. Economies of scale is for losers.

        3. Because the Air Force just wants to fly around in billion dollar fighters, rather than perform useful warfighting services in coordination with the other branches.

          I was reading that the AF has jurisdiction over space, and actually tried to kill the GPS program several times, because they didn’t really use it that much, and who gives a shit about the Army and Navy, anyway?

          1. Actually, the thing that the AF really doesn’t want to do is fly cargo aircraft, but given the choice between that and letting the Army fly cargo planes they got stuck running the Military Airlift Command.

            The AF also doesn’t want to land its expensive fighter aircraft on the decks of ships, and that would create ongoing interservice tensions because the carriers would be commanded by Navy and the fighter squadrons commanded by AF.

            The Marines, technically part of the Navy when it suits everyones purposes, prefer to fly their own combat support missions. But the Navy (incl USMC) is only allowed combat aircraft which can be carrier-based, so…

            1. It’s not just that Marines prefer to fly our own close air support missions. The Corps makes close air support their focus (at least for attack aircraft). They put so much emphasis on close air support that actual Marine pilots are embedded with ground troops as forward air controllers.

              Also, you will never have a situation where the Navy is in charge of the carriers and the AF is in charge of the fighters. There is always a single entity at the top of the chain of command. In the Navy Marine Corps world. The Navy is in charge during sea ops, and command is transferred to the Marine commander when they go feet dry.

              1. Thanks. I knew all that but was trying to bang out a quick response.

                Also, that AF fighter jock may have had to qualify with a rifle, but every Marine is first, last and always a combat rifleman. That gives even their fighter pilots an understanding that the AF flyboy doesn’t have.

            2. Hasn’t the AF been trying to kill the A-10 for years now? I was under the impression that they did not care for their direct ground support role as well, while simultaneously refusing to relinquish fixed wing aircraft to the Army.

              1. Yes, but the thing is hugely popular with the ground troops.

              2. I think a lot of the A-10 controversy is just Pentagon personnel trying to protect their budgets. Once you get to Washington and the Pentagon, it’s government business as usual.

        4. The Navy left the Marines on Guadalcanal.

          1. Meh. The Marines were probably tired of the Navy hanging around, trying to be one of the cool kids, anyway.

          2. And that is why the Harrier was a big purchase for the Marine Corps and why the Marines insisted on the a VSTOL F-35. BFYTW physics + institutional paranoia.

        5. Every combat branch doesn’t have their own aircraft. The Navy owns every single Marine aircraft in their inventory. Also, the Army doesn’t really have any fixed wing aircraft to speak of. They rely on the Air force. There is a little bit of overlap between the services. But, it’s really not as much as you would expect.

          1. I understood that the Army actually had more planes than the Air Force.

    2. Has that changed?

      We have been at war for so long that I do not think those roles are as specific as they used to be.

    3. Army SF soldiers are there to be advisors to indigenous forces, not SEALs. Has that changed?

      Not likely. The reason its SEALs there is because they’re not “Advising” or “training” shit; they’re there to go out on missions (alongside their “trainees”, who last i checked hardly needed any training) and kill bad guys and provide more-accurate forward air control for bombs. The was an incident late last year where a Delta guy got killed in a ‘hostage rescue’ mission in Iraq. The whole ‘advising & training’ thing seems to be on the same order as the SOG/MACV type stuff in Vietnam.

  13. So most of Iranian advisors and Iranian backed militias like the Badr corp are also currently in the mosul area. are we pro badr corp in Iraq and anti badr corp in Syria when the fight with Hezballah? What do we do if Hezballah fights in Iraq along side Iraqi government?

    We are on like 3 sides of this thing.

  14. It’s a paradox.

    The more we accuse the President of failing to appreciate the significance of this soldier’s sacrifice, the more compelled the President feels to make it a big deal with a large scale deployment. Meanwhile, if we don’t make a big deal about the loss of this soldier’s life, the President will keep doing the same thing.

    People need to understand that epic transformations happen over historic timescales. The Arab Spring was a long time coming. The impetus for it built up over decades–since colonialism and the piecing out of the Ottoman Empire, since the end of colonialism, since the beginning of the Cold War and through the Cold War’s end. The impetus for ISIS support is a reaction to modernization and globalization. These social and political transformations will continue to play themselves out over the coming decade or decades–no matter what we do.

    1. These social and political transformations will continue to play themselves out over the coming decade or decades–no matter what we do.

      President Trump would end the problem “quickly” — whatever that means.

      1. Well, it could mean get out of the Middle East and let them sort out their own shit, or it could mean kill ’em all and let God sort them out. Which it is probably depends on his mood that day.

        1. “A” isn’t going to happen as long as there is an Israel lobby.

          1. Yes, it’s the JOOZ that keep us embroiled in the Middle East and not our side gig of acting as the House of Saud’s Praetorian Guard in exchange for keeping the oil (and the oil bourse) flowing our way and not China’s.

            1. Couldn’t it be both (the U.S. Government catering to two foreign government entities simultaneously), in addition to factions in the U.S.G. trying to achieve other agendas, HM?

        2. “It could mean kill ’em all and let God sort them out.”

          It isn’t like in Japan, where you drop a couple of big ones, and the emperor capitulates.

          Are we going to take out all of North Africa, the Middle East, take out parts of central Asia, Pakistan, . . .

          Leave any part of it unincinerated, and you’ve still got the same problems.

          There are 1.6 billion of them. That’s a lot of people for God to sort out.

          1. “God is Great!”

    2. The Arab Spring isn’t looking like a fundamental transformation to me.

      Maybe it is. Replacing secular dictators with Islamist dictators could be a fundamental transformation, but its not one that takes historic timescales to happen.

      1. We’re talking about the legacy of the British and French dividing the Muslim world up between them both before and after World War I, the colonies achieving independence just as they were forced to choose sides in the Cold War, now those dictatorships being deposed–even as Cold War enemies like Saudi Arabia and Iran fight against each other through proxies and against their own at home, . . .

        Meanwhile, the Muslim world continues to struggle with modernity.

        And I’m not sure they’re replacing secular dictators with Islamist ones down the line. It’s going back and forth. The Egyptian people wanted the Muslim Brotherhood because they didn’t trust the corrupt secularists. Then the Muslim Brotherhood was deposed in a wildly popular coup. You have reactionaries like Al Qaeda and ISIS coming out of the woodwork, and they enjoy a certain amount of support–and a certain amount of condemnation. I believe they’ve been unanimously condemned by all five schools of Muslim jurisprudence–just as Al Qaeda was before them.

        The Muslim world doesn’t know what it wants yet. It’s in a state of flux. The French Revolution played out like that, as well. Let’s get rid of the King. Let’s have a tyranny of the majority! Nah, let’s have a revolutionary emperor in Napoleon. Nah, let’s go back to having a king again. And so on . . .

        1. Fair enough.

          Its possible that the Muslim countries will land on something other than dictators. But they haven’t shown much appetite for anything else yet.

          1. To be fair, Iran did, but we kinda screwed that up for them.

            1. Operation Ajax would’ve worked if we had installed the right, top man.

              1. Operation Ajax would’ve worked if we had installed the right, top man.

                Practice makes perfect, and this time they’ll get it right….

            2. Regardless of what they say, I don’t believe the Mullahs are really upset with the U.S. because we deposed a democratically elected leader in 1953.

              I find the Mullahs’ heartfelt commitment to democratic principles laughable. Whatever we did in 1953, the Mullahs have done ten times over since 1979.

              Meanwhile, if you don’t want your government toppled by the CIA as the Cold War ramps up, don’t nationalize British Petroleum’s assets in Iran and declare your government’s allegiance to the USSR. That amounted to an oil embargo against the U.S. and its allies.

              Would our relations with Iran really be worse if it hadn’t been for what we did in 1953? It’s like Al Qaeda threatening us with jihad–isn’t that what they’re already doing? How much better would it be, really, if we did what they wanted? Wouldn’t they still be targeting us at every opportunity anyway?

              1. Regardless of what they say, I don’t believe the Mullahs….

                Neither do I take their statements for the truth. Regardless of our impressions with these few me, Ken, ordinary Iranians who had their rights taken away and those of them who were abused and tortured, or had family members and friends abused and tortured by the newly installed regime, were no inclined to view the United States or its citizens – who supposedly freely choose their representatives and therefore might be considered complicit in their government’s activities – with comity.

                1. If the Iranian people are angry at us because we overthrew their government in 1953, how angry should they be at the Mullahs for everything the Mullahs have done since 1979?

                  You want to blame us for our support of the Shah? Okay. Then it should be alright for us to blame them for their support of our enemy, the USSR.

                  They strip the west of a large oil supply (sending it to the USSR is not fungible), ally themselves with our enemies, and wonder why we treated them like enemies?

                  Okay.

                  How angry are they at their own government for treating them like shit? I that our fault because of 1953, too?

  15. We shouldn’t trust anybody who says they’ll bring the social and institutional transformation of North Africa or the Middle East to a close over the course of a Presidential term or two. We shouldn’t trust anybody who says those places will no longer be a threat to American security if only we pull our troops out either. We should just understand that the Arab world is undergoing fundamental transformation on a historic timescale, and it will continue to represent a security threat to the American people for the foreseeable future–no matter what we do.

    As always, all we can reasonably hope to do is concentrate on our own best interests.

    Somebody explain to me why Obama putting boots on the ground in the middle of a long term, historical transformation is in the best interests of American security.

    1. Without pseudo-stability of American intervention, there would be widespread social breakdown. Matter of fact, one could wind up with worst refugee crisis since WWII if…oh, wait.

  16. A defense department spokesperson said the unidentified SEAL was killed in a firefight “three to five kilometers behind the forward line of troops”, near Mosul, after Islamic State (ISIS) fighters broke through the line,

    Two thoughts:

    (a) That’s some quality advisin’ going on, if they can’t hold the line against ISIS.

    (b) Shouldn’t that be “after ISIS fighters broke through the former front line?

    1. Aboush blamed “limited capabilities” and “old rifles” on the inability of his forces to defend against the ISIS attack.

      NEEDZ MOR AVISERS!!

    2. Curious what they are fighting with when they complain about ‘old’ rifles. ISIS is running around AK’s.

      1. And since when has rifles technology leaped so vastly forward that the side with older rifles is at a marked disadvantage?

  17. I wonder how the troops themselves react to this sort of stuff. They must hear their political leaders lying through their teeth and know it is BS. At the very least I would think it would make them cynical as hell. Or are the ones over their now the kind of guys who like being deployed and being secret soldiers?

  18. “Obama administration insists no “conventional ground troops and ground force operations on the ground”.”

    Which is true.

    Numero uno, Navy seals aren’t “conventional ground troops” – just ask them!

    Numero two-o, most of the troops have their bodies standing straight, which would put them in the air, not the ground. Maybe some part of the Seal’s uniform, like the boots for instance, will touch the ground, but that’s it.

    Numero three-o, if it’s a Navy operation it can’t be on the ground, can it?

    And numero four-o, if they’re dead, they’re *in* the ground, not *on* it.

    The President is being totally accurate, you haters!

  19. Is someone around here bad mouthing the Nobel Prize winning light bringer again? You Team Red conspiracy theory hacks never stop, do you?

  20. So much for ‘no boots in the ground’.

    Sigh.

    /walks to chalk board. Adds to ‘if you like your doctor’.

  21. Wars of mystery wander wailing valleys shrouded in the strumming vapor of obscure architects.

    1. Sweet.

      Our poet laureate is back!

      1. Wars of mystery wander wailing valleys shrouded in the strumming vapor of obscure architects.

        This reminded me of many things, including the lyrics from two songs (by very different sources).

        “Forward he cried from the rear
        and the front rank died
        And the General sat, as the lines on the map
        moved from side to side”

        “Generals gathered in their classes
        just like witches at black masses
        evil minds that plot destruction
        sorcerers of death’s construction
        in the fields the bodies burning
        as the war machine keeps turning…

        Politicians hide themselves away they only started the war
        why should they go out to fight?
        They leave that role to the poor

  22. It’s sad but no one really gives a damn anymore. Another person sacrificed for no viable reason whatsoever.

  23. When it bothers to, the Obama administration argues the campaign against ISIS is covered by the 9/11-rleated authorization of the use of military force (AUMF) against Al Qaeda (of which ISIS is an offshoot-cum-competitor) and “associated forces.”

    And this argument holds about as much water as the administration’s argument that it can grant legal status to illegal aliens who aren’t entitled to it under the immigration statutes, or that it can, under the guise of enforcing title IX’s ban on discrimination, require colleges and universities to investigate and prevent instances of “unwelcome . . . verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

    Remember how Franklin said the constitution gave us “a republic, if you can keep it”? Well, we’ve lost it.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.