An Iraqi unit preparing to fight the Islamic State in Mosul watched “American Sniper” and played the popular video game “Call of Duty” to get pumped up.
The Najaf Battalion of the Iraqi Security Forces’ (ISF) Golden Division spent five months training and preparing to retake Mosul from ISIS. During that time, the unit watched America-made action movies like “American Sniper” and “The Expendables” to keep their energy up. Iraqi Lt. Col. Ali Hussein Fadil, their commander, has a personal favorite: “Black Hawk Down.”
The battalion enjoys American action films so much, they adorned their humvees with stenciled outlines of the skull symbol from American comic book hero “The Punisher.” Chris Kyle, the famed Navy SEAL sniper featured in “American Sniper,” adopted the symbol in the film.
Najaf battalion not only loves American movies and video games, it also relies on U.S. military gear and weaponry. In addition to their humvees, the men are outfitted with gear from Southern California-based company 5.11 tactical. They also carry the iconic M-4 carbine rifle, an M-16 variant common in U.S. military ranks.
“Our supplies, training and equipment are American,” Fadil told the Los Angeles Times, but he notes that “I’m an Iraqi soldier.”
While the men of the Najaf battalion enjoy their downtime, they are hardly a push over unit, and they have no illusions about how dangerous their enemy can be. Fadil warned his men of the dangers they would encounter in Mosul, unlike many other Iraqi commanders who fear scaring off their troops. Fadil would rather the men know what they are up against.
The Najaf Battalion was called up the day before the Mosul invasion began on Oct. 17. Fadil told his men to remember their training. Don’t enter houses alone, make sure to have RPG’s ready to take out suicide bombers in cars and watch for booby traps.
Iraq’s fight for Mosul entered its third week Monday, with ISF making solid early progress. That said, both Iraqi and U.S. commanders realize the fight for Iraq’s second largest city could take months.
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