Tuesday, December 1, 2015

US Sending New Special Ops Force to Fight Islamic State

The U.S. will deploy a new special operations force to the Middle East to help fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday.

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee that over time, these special operators will be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture Islamic State leaders. Carter said that will improve intelligence and generate more targets for attacks.

Carter did not offer troop numbers amid a growing call from some Republicans for more U.S. boots on the ground and a divide among war-weary Americans about the prospect of greater military involvement. He said the number in the expeditionary force will be "larger" than 50 but would not be more specific and didn't say exactly where they would be based.

There currently are about 3,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, and President Barack Obama had previously announced he was sending fewer than 50 special operations forces to Syria.

Carter said the raids in Iraq will be done at the invitation of the Iraqi government and focused on defending its borders and building the Iraqi security force's own capacity. But the force also will be in position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria, he said.

Carter said the force might be American-only, but more likely would be a mixed force with perhaps Kurdish troops or others who are fighting the militants. He said the new force would conduct operations similar to ones executed earlier this year.

He said it will be a "standing" force, meaning it will be stationed in Iraq and prepared to operate at any time. He called it a "new way of achieving our objective" of defeating the Islamic State.

"And there will be more," Carter said, in coming months.

In October, U.S. special operations troops and Iraqi forces raided a compound in northern Iraqfreeing about 70 Iraqi prisoners who were facing execution. One American service member was killed in the raid, the first American combat death in Iraq since the U.S. began its counter-IS military campaign in August 2014. In May, a Delta Force raid in Syria killed IS financier Abu Sayyaf, yielded intelligence about the group's structure and finances, and his wife, held in Iraq, has been cooperating with interrogators.

Polling after the attacks in Paris and Beirut found Americans divided over sending U.S. ground troops to fight IS. A Gallup survey said that 47 percent of Americans favored sending more ground troops to Iraq and Syria and 46 percent were opposed.

Carter said the U.S. also is expanding attacks on the militants' infrastructure and their sources of revenue, particularly from oil.

"Over the past several weeks, because of improved intelligence and understanding of ISIL's operations, we've intensified the air campaign against ISIL's war-sustaining oil enterprise, a critical pillar of ISIL's financial infrastructure," Carter said, using another acronym for the Islamic State group. "In addition to destroying fixed facilities like wells and processing facilities, we've destroyed nearly 400 of ISIL's oil tanker trucks, reducing a major source of its daily revenues. There's more to come, too."

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified alongside Carter, saying that in the past month or so, attacks on IS have disrupted 43 percent of its revenue stream.

In a later exchange with Rep. James Langevin, D-R.I., Carter elaborated on the prospect of using the expanded special operations force in Iraq to conduct raids inside Syria

1 comment:

Gregg Grina said...

These seem to be some type of military aircraft of unknown type.
At 7:37 PM central time, my brother and I were walking on the north side of Edison elementary school when we noticed 3 very bright (as bright as Venus or ISS going overhead) red/orange lights to the south. They were low in the southern sky and maybe 20 degrees above the horizon and heading due north. The craft were widely spaced and were not in any type of obvious formation. They were spaced miles apart and the middle one was in front of the others from our vantage point. The evening sky was clear with very good visibility. Temp was 44F wind was SW at 9mph. Stars were clearly visible. The atmosphere was stable.
As they move closer it became clear that these were no ordinary aircraft. The lighting on the vehicles were still all solid orange. The lights were extremely bright. Much, much brighter then B-52s at night. Minot Air Force Base is 13 miles due north and home to 28 B-52Hs. I've watched them fly at night with all their lights on while doing pattern work. These aircraft were not BUFFs. To us, they were at an unknown altitude, But, if I were to guess base on how soon the sound reached us as they passed overhead I would say about 10,000 feet. There was a soft turbofan engine noise (almost like it was muffled). The engine noise was distinctly different from a B-52. They moved much slower than passenger jets overflying Minot. I'm guessing these vehicles were doing 200 knots. The orange lights numbered a dozen or more on the bottom of the craft. The pattern of the lights were spread out across the width of the wing or body and made it appear to have a very wide wing. It also had one extremely bright search light that was also orange. It was rather washed out or dull and was beaming its light ahead of the vehicle. The individual lights on the bottom appeared to be rectangular. They all were steady in brightness and did not dim or strobe. We were able to watch 2 of the craft as they headed north. They went directly to the M.A.F.B. and then turned east without losing altitude. One of them headed back towards Minot and I was able to look at it thru binoculars. I still could not make out a planform. I did recognize a red rotating beacon towards the aft end and more orange lights possible on top. It was still brightly lit with the search light on. Then, the craft turned to the east again and dimmed all of its lights including the red beacon and disappeared. It was now 8:03 pm.
This happened 11/08/15. I filed this report with nuforc. Do you have any idea about these craft?
Additionally, they may have been traveling much slower than 200 knots. Perhaps 100 kts. or less. There was no jet exhaust noise with turbine engine sound. I saw one craft at different angles. approaching head on from the south, directly above, departing to the north and at as the craft went easterly from 3 or 4 miles away. I'm a pilot and am pretty good with judging size and distance. These things were very big dimensionally. 747 size or larger. I know this makes no sense but, It happened. They had no anti-collision strobes either.
Any wild guess what these are? What type of aircraft sports bright orange lights?
And what would be the purpose?


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