image Photo: CENTCOM

US-led coalition battles COVID-19 in addition to ISIS

The Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) is implementing force protection measures against the coronavirus in compliance with U.S. Army Central Command guidance. The Coalition has military contributions from more than 30 nations.

“We are taking these preventative measures very seriously so that we can ensure that we protect the force, remain operationally engaged, and continue to support our partners in the fight against Daesh,” said Command Sergeant Major Daniel Hendrex, CJTF-OIR senior enlisted leader, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

The stated goal of CJTF-OIR is to “work with and through our partner forces to ensure an enduring defeat of Daesh (ISIS). Mentoring, advising and assisting are key components for building our security partners’ capacity to defeat Daesh remnants and create regional stability.”

In a press release to TV7, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) explained that the anti-virus measures “have required some fundamental changes in how the Coalition acts both collectively and individually.” Stringent personal health protection required of all Coalition members and their security partner include physical distancing of at least six feet of distance between individuals, dispersal of the work force through shifted schedules to minimize the number of personnel at any given time in buildings, the “leveraging” of “alternate means of communication” to include video-teleconferencing, teleconferencing and the holding of “mission-essential meetings” only; as well as face coverings, frequent hand washing and the sanitization of “frequent touch points” such as door handles, computer keypads and phones in communal spaces.

“Protecting our people is our commanding general’s number one priority,” said Hendrex. “Our leadership is engaged, we are staying in communication with our partners, and we want to make sure our service members, civilians, and contractors supporting this Coalition understand why these measures are important.”

Military doctors and health care providers are also advising commanders at all levels about preparation and prevention techniques, while providing “first-class medical response and mitigation measures” if a positive case has been confirmed.

“Ensuring the protection and well-being of all members of the Coalition and those members of our security partners that we operate alongside daily is paramount to the success of the mission,” said U.S. Army Col. William Porter, CJTF-OIR command surgeon.

Other steps taken to contain the virus include the screening of all personnel who enter the theater from the United States or any other Coalition nation. “All personnel are screened and quarantined for 14 days before they begin daily operations as a member of the CJTF. Those who display COVID-19 symptoms are tested and provided appropriate medical care,” according to another CENTCOM press release to TV7.

All CJTF bases and medical providers have established procedures if a service member has tested positive, and all bases have been equipped with isolation areas separated from the general population.

The U.S.-led coalition has supported the Iraqi military since 2014 in the fight against the Islamic State.

Since the defeat of the extremist Sunni Muslim group in Iraq in 2017, U.S.-Iranian tension has put the coalition increasingly in the crosshairs of Shi’ite militia factions backed by Tehran.

The U.S. coalition suspended training of Iraqi forces over coronavirus fears in March, coinciding with a drawdown of coalition troops in Iraq after Iranian-backed militias stepped up rocket attacks on bases hosting foreign forces. Two U.S. military personnel and a British soldier were killed in an incident the same month. At the time, coalition officials said the reduction of troops and relocation of units into fewer Iraqi bases was due to capability of Baghdad’s own forces to contain the threat from remaining Islamic State militants by themselves.

Training was initially suspended by the coalition in January when militia rocket attacks increased, and Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s top paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

Even though Iraq’s parliament called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops following Soleimani’s death, a coalition military official speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity said that U.S. training had been slated to be fully resumed but was halted due to the coronavirus outbreak. The source told Reuters that Iraqi forces had stopped training because they were avoiding large gatherings to prevent infection and that was affecting what U.S. forces were doing as part of their mission.

Coalition training “isn’t happening because of the health risks associated with it”, the official said, adding that some coalition trainers had left Iraq. He said it was not clear when training would resume. “We’re going to focus … on supporting the Iraqi security forces in their efforts against Daesh (Islamic State) from fewer bases and with fewer people,” the official said.

To date, Iraq has recorded 1,677 cases of the disease including 83 deaths.

The coalition currently deploys around 7,500 troops in Iraq, including 5,000 Americans. In December 2017, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump ended disclosure over troop numbers in combat zones in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan; a policy which is currently facing legal challenges in petitions filed by The Just Security website and the Project on Government Oversight under the Freedom of Information Act.

Military analysts fear a drawdown in coalition troop numbers could hamper efforts to fight Islamic State, which is trying regroup and has been perpetrating regular attacks across much of northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) is maintaining a wide range of Force and Personal Health Protection Measures to counter the threat of COVID-19 across Iraq and Syria.

Highlights of Coalition activities are detailed below (courtesy of CENTCOM):

  • ISF assisted by the Coalition blast ISIS hideout
  • British service personnel applaud healthcare professionals
  • U.S. Air Force F-15E flies near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria
  • Combat Camera troops test Tampa Microwave satellite dish
  • British Command Surgeon helps mitigate the spread of COVID-19
  • Coalition fires vehicle-mounted, remote-controlled machine gun
  • Keep-in-touch: Coalition, Security partners meet over video technology

ISF assisted by the Coalition blast ISIS hideout

Iraqi Security Forces, assisted by Coalition airpower, conducted ground and air strikes against Daesh fighters in south of Kirkuk, April 13, killing more than 20 enemy fighters.

Through close collaboration with the Joint Operations Command – Iraq, the Coalition provided ISF requested close air support and surveillance aircraft to aid ISF troops battling ISIS holdouts in the austere terrain of Wadi Ashai near Kirkuk.

“The ISF’s ability to target and punish Daesh in this isolated territory confirms that these Daesh criminals have no safe haven,” said Col. Matt Brown, CJTF-OIR Task Force-Iraq Deputy Commander.

(Source: Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs)

https:// /Media-Library/Article/2153580/isf-coalition-blast-isis-hideout/

British service personnel in Iraq cheer for healthcare professionals

British service personnel deployed in support of operations in Iraq demonstrated their support for healthcare professionals combatting the medical crisis of COVID-19.

The video features the trending hashtag #ClapForCarers, which indicates the unwaivering support for those who work in the medical field during these difficult times.

(Source: British Army Public Affairs)

U.S. Air Force F-15 flies near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet performed a practice strafing run near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria, April 14, 2020. The U.S. Air Force provides immediate threat response and air superiority in the 55 km deconfliction zone in southern Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

(Source: Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs)

Tampa Microwave communication system is installed to support messaging campaign

U.S. Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade assembled a Tampa Microwave system at Camp Taji, Iraq, April 12, 2020. The system is a man-portable battery powered dish that can provide a digital network to an expeditionary combat operations center and was tested in its capability to transmit imagery to support public affairs and combat camera imagery in direct support to CENTCOM.

(Source: Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs)

British Command Surgeon saves lives by implementing procedures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

Command Surgeon Doug, a British Army officer with the Special Forces Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR) fervently talks about the coronavirus at Arifjan, Kuwait, April 11, 2020. Doug’s medical expertise has been instrumental in SOJTF-OIR’S implementation of plans to mitigate exposure to coalition members and partner forces as well as coordinating procedures to treat personnel that are exposed to coronavirus – and communicating those precautions aiming to ‘flatten the curve’ of any epidemic.

(Source: Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs)

Special operations forces train on remote-controlled .50 cal machine gun

U.S. Army Green Berets fired .50 caliber machine guns on Common Remotely Operated Weapon Stations from their vehicles during a readiness exercise near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria, April 12, 2020. Coalition and partner forces regularly train on various weapons systems in a joint effort to defeat Daesh remnants in southern Syria, and help set conditions for the enduring defeat of Daesh.

(Source: Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs)

Technology and innovation enables the defeat Daesh mission in the Middle East during COVID-19

The increased use of video teleconference technology enables the Coalition to continue advising partner forces on multiple topics, including ongoing defeat Daesh operations and implementing COVID-19 prevention measures. As another innovation, Coalition advisors use aerial drones to help document partner force training exercises. The video recordings are then reviewed by Coalition advisors and partner forces to help improve their tactics.

“Face-to-face engagements with the partner forces will always be a preferred method of communicating and building partner capacity, but technology continues to bridge-the-gap in times like these when in-person engagements and movement opportunities are limited,” said Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, commanding general for SOJTF-OIR.

(Source: Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs)


Defeating Daesh Highlights of the Week

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Our partners in Iraq and Syria are leading the way to find and eliminate ISIS fighters and their finance, logistics, and media networks.

“When Daesh pops up, Daesh gets thumped,” said Col. Myles B. Caggins III, Coalition military spokesman. “The mentoring our Iraqi and Syrian partners receive from the Coalition enables them to prevent a resurgence and eliminate remaining pockets of Daesh fighters.”

During the week of April 15 – 21, 2020, the following actions happened in Iraq:

  • April 15: The Military Intelligence Detachment from the 7th Division, in coordination with the 2nd Regiment, the 8th Brigade, seized a homemade explosive device cache in Anah district, Anbar province. The explosives were safely disposed of by the Field Engineering Detachment.

  • April 15: Intelligence Detachments from the Federal Police, Ministry of Interior, carried out a search operation in the mountain range and villages east of the Tuz Khurmato district. Ten Daesh hideouts containing explosive devices, landmines and other supplies were found and destroyed.

  • April 15: Based on a local report, Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team personnel found and safely destroyed 15 explosive devices, remnants from Daesh, in Heet city, Anbar province. .

  • April 15: The Military Intelligence Detachment from the 14th Division, in cooperation with the 50th Brigade, seized a cache of homemade explosive devices in Lakjah village, Makhmour district, Mosul. The explosives were safely disposed of by the Field Engineering Detachment.

April 15: Troops from the 5th Iraqi Army Division, killed one terrorist and wounded another during an ambush in Yuosif Hilal village, Baquba district, Diyala province.

  • April 17: Iraqi Army Aviation from Kirkuk air base provided air support to the 14th Infantry Division, during a search operation in Makhmour district. Two Daesh safe houses were destroyed during the aerial assault.

  • April 17: Military Intelligence Detachments, from the13th Brigade, in coordination with the intelligence unit from Samarra Operations Command, found and seized a cache of explosive devices on Samara Island, near the provincial boundaries of Salah Ad-Din province. The explosives were subsequently safely disposed of by the Field Engineering Detachment.

  • April 19: Based on intelligence, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets carried out precision airstrikes against Daesh hideouts on the island of Abdul Aziz, located in the middle of the Tigris River west of al-Dour district in Salah Ad-Din province. Fourteen terrorists were killed in the airstrikes while three hideouts were completely destroyed. The terrorists used these hideouts as a launching pad to attack civilians and security forces.

  • April 19: The Military Intelligence Detachment of the 14th Division, in cooperation with the 2nd Regiment of the 50th Infantry Brigade, seized a cache of homemade explosive devices and detonators in Salah Ad-Din. The explosives were safely disposed of by the Field Engineering Detachment.

April 19: The 3rd Brigade Intelligence, Emergency Response Division, with the support of Iraq National Security Service, arrested a Daesh logistical support officer in Daquq District, Kirkuk province.

  • April 20: The Military Intelligence Detachment, 10th Division, in coordination with the 39th Infantry Brigade, arrested a terrorist wanted by the Iraqi Judiciary in Albu Fraj area, Ramadi Island, Anbar province. The arrested terrorist was working as a coordinator between Daesh militants who had fled Iraq and their families who lived in displaced camps in Anbar.

  • April 21: The Military Intelligence Detachment, 14th Division, in coordination with the 1st Battalion, 51st Infantry Brigade, arrested a terrorist wanted by the Iraqi Judiciary in al-Zab district, Kirkuk. The terrorist was involved in providing food supplies and logistical support to terrorists.

  • April 21: Military Intelligence Detachments from  the 8th Division, al-Jazeerah Operations Command, in coordination with the Intelligence Units from the 30th and 32nd Infantry Brigades and al-Qaim Counter-Terrorism Directorate, conducted an operation to infiltrate and dismantle a terrorist cell in al-Qaim, Anbar province.  Seven members, wanted by the Iraqi Judiciary, were arrested.

  • April 21: Troops from the 20th Division, Ninawa Operations Command – West, in conjunction with a force from the National Security Service and the Tribal Crowd, launched a large-scale operation in the Jazeerah area and south of Hatra, to hunt down wanted criminals and search for Daesh hideouts and tunnels. The operation is still ongoing.


During the week of April 15 – 21, 2020, the following actions happened in Syria:

 April 15: The elite Counter-Terrorism Unit within the Syrian Democratic Forces, with air support from the International Coalition, arrested a Daesh leader responsible for financing and equipping sleeper cells in the region. The Deash leader was targeted as part of a raid in the southern Hasaka countryside.

  • April 18: The elite Counter-Terrorism Unit within the Syrian Democratic Forces, carried out a security operation in northern Deir ez-Zor, which resulted in the arrest of five members of a Daesh terrorist cell. The terrorists were in possession of bombs and explosive belts that they were planning to use to target the SDF.

Removing Daesh fighters, weapons and explosive material remains a top priority as Daesh continues to plot attacks against innocent civilians and our partners throughout Iraq and northeast Syria.