America's Quiet War in Iraq

(National Interest) Nolan Peterson - The aircraft parked at this military base in Kurdistan in northern Iraq offer a symbolic counterpoint to the White House narrative that U.S. forces are on the sidelines of the ground war against the Islamic State. U.S. Army medevac Blackhawk helicopters are based here, along with Army Apache attack helicopters; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft; and a variety of armed special operations aircraft from different military branches. The U.S. base is an operational hub for the U.S.-led, 66-nation coalition combating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. U.S. and coalition personnel coordinate airstrikes to support Kurdish peshmerga forces. To support operations against ISIS and in Afghanistan, the U.S. is setting up new bases and refurbishing old ones across the Middle East, reflecting a reversal of White House plans to draw down U.S. forces in the region. As of the end of April, the U.S. had conducted 9,073 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Nearly all the U.S. military aircraft were launched from bases and Navy vessels outside Iraq and Syria. According to open source data, 50,000 U.S. military personnel are deployed throughout the Middle East, including Navy personnel at sea.

2016-05-13 00:00:00

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