Special operators from the Army’s Delta Force are about to sweep through Iraq targeting high-level Islamic State militants.
Delta Force, part of “Tier One” special operations, has slowly been prepping in the shadows on the ground for weeks. Some of that preparation has included syncing up with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, as well as establishing an intelligence network, CNN reports.
Pentagon officials did not provide any more details on the upcoming operations, but CNN has reported that Delta Force will copy the same strategy used by previous special ops teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. The head of U.S. Special Operations Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, has specifically told his troops not to breathe a word of the details.
Once Delta has the intelligence it needs, operators will close in on terrorist locations and snuff them out, seizing any gear on the ground for further information on ISIS hotspots.
The establishment of safe houses means that Delta Force is likely to stay for a longer period, progressively expanding from Iraq to Syria.
Aside from a Delta Force raid in May 2015, this will constitute the first public use of combat boots on the ground in Syria. Other hits on ISIS leaders have been conducted through use of drones.
The problem with launching ground operations in Syria is two-fold. First, it is unlikely Delta Force will be able to collaborate with allied units. Second, Russian airstrikes may accidentally hit Delta operators, as the U.S. has declined to provide Russia with any specific location details on special operators in northern Syria.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter hinted at the deployment of an “expeditionary targeting force” for Iraq and likely Syria. The point, he said, is to set hostages free and capture ISIS leaders.
“You don’t know at night who’s going to be coming in through the window,” Carter said in December.
Members of Congress at the time asked for more information on the deployment and were somewhat surprised at the news. GOP Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, called the announcement “another reactive and incremental step, specifically responding to the Paris attacks, in a policy that has allowed the ISIL threat to metastasize to Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere across the globe. A comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIL is totally absent, urgently needed, and long overdue.”
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