It was recently announced that, for the second time in the last twelve months, that significant numbers of U.S. Marines have been deployed in the fight against the Islamic State. The first time was in March of 2016, when around 100 Marines were deployed to an artillery position in northern Iraq to support U.S. backed Iraqi forces in their assault on the city of Mosul, resulting in the first U.S. combat death in Iraq since 2011. This month we have word of a second, apparently much larger, deployment of U.S. Marines to Syria. They include members of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unity (MEU) who have established an artillery base to provide support for U.S. backed local forces that have recently intensified their focus on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s capital city.
The Marines are not the only U.S. forces operating in Syria, as they are part of an estimated 400 additional U.S. troops being sent to the country to prepare for the fight to take Raqqa, which could represent one of the most significant and bloody battles of the war to date. Continue reading →
Blackwater vs. ISIS? An Interview with Patrick Minor.
In response to the challenges posed by the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, President Obama developed a plan that involved a coalition of European and Arab states that provided air-support to localized forces that resisted ISIS, including Kurds, a reconstituted Iraqi Army, tribal militias, and Syrian rebels. This patchwork of often poorly trained or poorly equipped ground troops, although having occasional success, has so far done relatively little to turn back ISIS’ gains. ISIS still controls, for example, lands between Syria and Iraq that cover a greater amount of territory than Britain. It also continues to engage multiple opponents on multiple fronts while drawing enthusiastic recruits from all over the world.
Rather than depending solely on a hastily constructed alliance of Kurds, Syrian rebels, and Iraqi soldiers, Eric Prince, the founder of the controversial Blackwater security group, had another suggestion. Prince, whose company had sent thousands of experienced, well trained, well equipped, and well paid fighters into Iraq and Afghanistan, suggested such forces could be used in the fight against ISIS as well.