US Artillery pounding ISIS as troops advance into Mosul

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US Artillery pounding ISIS as troops advance into Mosul

If you haven't read what I wrote yesterday and viewed the videos, you should do that first by CLICKING HERE.

But even if you haven't, this is an interesting article from Marine Corps Times today CLICK HERE:

As Iraqi and Kurdish forces tighten the noose around Islamic State fighters in Mosul, the U.S. is helping them blast through enemy defenses....the U.S. is providing air and artillery support to obliterate obstacles in the Iraqis and Kurds’ path, said Lt. Gen. William Beydler, head of Marine Corps Forces Central Command. 

Note the bolded portion, "artillery."


Between 3,500 and 5,500 Marines are in the region at any given time, half of whom are aboard ships, Beydler said Wednesday in an interview.  

Right now, several hundred Marines are serving in Iraq, he said. Marine-led Task Forces Al Asad and Al Taqaddum are supporting two Iraqi army brigades moving toward Mosul with aircraft and artillery, he said. 

“We work with our own fires, and we make sure that it’s coordinated with the Iraqi security force movement and maneuver,” Beydler said. “We make sure that the fires are cleared. We have target engagement authorities and we retain that for ourselves to make sure that the fires are being properly in support of the Iraqis.” 

Here's what I find interesting....we always knew there were SF guys and Air Force guys running around.  But artillery isn't special operations.  The conception I thought was that there was still this fiction of "no boots on ground" using some theory that Special Forces "Advisors" weren't there in a war fighting capacity per se, but just to coordinate stuff  (more below), and then we get this passage that the Marine-led task forces were supporting with artillery.

But then the article seems to turn another corner:

The Army provides artillery support to the Iraqis and the Marines are contributing land-based AV-8B Harriers to the fleet of aircraft that is helping the Iraqis penetrate the Islamic State's defenses around Mosul and take out any enemy weapons supporting those obstacles, he said. 

So these Army guys are in addition to the 3,500-5,000 figure presumably.  So how many red legs (Artillery) people do we have there?  It's not clear.

MIlitary Times had a piece back in May (CLICK HERE) that makes me question what I know, what I think I know, and what I don't know that I think I know.

No one disputes that U.S. military forces are fighting in combat in Iraq and Syria — except maybe President Obama and some members of his administration.

The semantic arguments over whether there are American "boots on the ground" muddy the view of a situation in which several thousand armed U.S. military personnel are in Iraq and Syria. Obama has said more than a dozen times that there would be no combat troops in Iraq and Syria as the number of service members in those countries grows; last week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged the military personnel there were in combat and "we should say that clearly."


Obama administration officials have consistently told the American public since 2013 that there will be no combat "boots on the ground" in Iraq and Syria. Their argument is based on the idea that there are no conventional U.S. ground forces in large units fighting ISIS in direct combat. Saying there are "no U.S. boots on the ground" — while inaccurate — is meant to convey the administration's view that U.S. troops are not on the front lines waging the war. Instead, U.S. troops are advising and assisting the Iraqi and Syrian forces, providing training, intelligence and logistical support from behind the battlefront.

Artillery is pretty much a "conventional U.S. ground force" unless someone changed it on me.  And providing fire on a target isn't exactly logistical in the classic sense.

No one seems to be making much of this but me, so maybe I am reading it wrong or something, but artillery is a pretty conventional set piece of each battle, and yet we are keeping alive the "Boots on Ground" fiction? 

Anyone understand what we are considering the troops there now?  It's one thing to provide advosors or beans and bullets, seems another entirely for artillery to be blasting holes in defenses.  I'm all for it mind you, but it does seem to differ from the impression I had previously that this was not a conventional thing.

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You can give Daesh i55mm howitzers (the Iraqis abandoned theirs) and truck loads of ammo, but they still don't know how to deploy artillery. They can make a lot of noise and blow holes in the desert. The US Army Artillery School trains experts. Daesh is finding that out the hard way.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.