By Cheryl Pellerin
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have begun operations in support of Iraqi security forces in Tikrit after a request from the Iraqi government, officials from Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve announced this afternoon.
According to a task force news release, the coalition is now providing direct support to Iraqi security forces conducting operations to expel the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from the city. The joint, combined task force is providing air strikes, airborne intelligence capabilities, and advise and assist support to Iraqi security force headquarters elements to enhance their ability to defeat ISIL, officials said.
Destroying ISIL Strongholds
“These strikes are intended to destroy ISIL strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimizing collateral damage to infrastructure,” said Army Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, task force commanding general. “This will further enable Iraqi forces under Iraqi command to maneuver and defeat ISIL in the vicinity of Tikrit.”
At the Pentagon this morning, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren confirmed that the United States is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support over Tikrit, and from these operations providing intelligence to Iraqi security forces.
“At the request of the government of Iraq, coalition forces are providing support to Iraqi security forces as they combat ISIL in and around Tikrit,” said Col. Patrick Ryder, a U.S. Central Command spokesman. “To be clear, the coalition is only coordinating with the government of Iraq and the Iraqi security forces; we do not coordinate our operations in any way with Iran or Iranian-backed militias.”
Although there’s been significant media attention on the stalled Tikrit operation which began March 2, coalition forces have continued to actively make progress against ISIL throughout the area of operations in Iraq and Syria, according to Centcom officials, adding that coalition forces are completing these operations simultaneously and in close coordination with the Iraqis.
Destroying ISIL’s Combat Capability
“Since the beginning of March, coalition forces have conducted more than 300 airstrikes against ISIL targets in support of five separate Iraqi-led operations as well as counter-ISIL operations in Syria,” Ryder said. “We have destroyed a significant portion of ISIL’s combat capability during this period, to include the elimination of more than 800 ISIL fighters, two tanks, 15 armored personnel carriers, 11 indirect fire systems and 10 anti-aircraft systems from the battlefield.”
Centcom officials assess that the number of ISIL forces and amount of equipment destroyed over the last three weeks is much larger than what ISIL currently maintains in Tikrit. Through these operations, coalition forces have continued to degrade ISIL’s command and control capability, its ability to project combat power, and its ability to resource itself, officials said.
“Coalition airstrikes will provide a unique and decisive enabler for the Iraqi Security Forces as they have elsewhere in Iraq,” Ryder said. “We know that ISIL’s position in Tikrit is not going to improve.”
Critical Training for Iraqi Forces
In addition to airstrikes, coalition forces also continue to provide critical training to Iraqi security forces, according to Centcom officials. There are currently 4,800 Iraqi troops in training at four building partner capacity sites in Iraq, with 3,000 of those troops entering training three weeks ago.
“We are building their capacity while enabling and supporting their operations throughout the country,” Ryder said. “So we are doing a lot, especially in the past three weeks. And we are doing all of this simultaneously and in close coordination with our Iraqi partners.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)
At Iraq Leader’s Request, Coalition Operations Begin in Tikrit
Special Report: Operation Inherent Resolve – Targeted Operations Against ISIL Terrorists
Coalition Operations Against ISIL
The Defense Department on Facebook
The Defense Department on Twitter
DoD News on Twitter
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced yesterday that the remains of U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been accounted for and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces 1st Lts. William D. Bernier of Augusta, Montana; Bryant E. Poulsen of Salt Lake City, Utah; Herbert V. Young Jr. of Clarkdale, Arizona and Tech Sgts. Charles L. Johnston of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Hugh F. Moore of Elkton, Maryland and Staff Sgts. John E. Copeland of Dearing, Kansas; Charles J. Jones of Athens, Georgia; and Sgt. Charles A. Gardner of San Francisco, California, have been accounted for and buried with full military honors. Jones will be buried Feb. 28 in Athens, Georgia and Johnston will be buried March 2 in Arlington National Cemetery. On March 18, there will be a group burial service at Arlington National Cemetery honoring Poulsen, Copeland and the other crew members. Bernier was buried Sept. 19, 2014, in his hometown. Young was buried Oct. 15, 2014, in Prescott, Arizona Moore was buried on Nov. 11, 2014, in his hometown. Gardner was buried on Dec. 4, 2014 in Arlington National Cemetery.
On April 10, 1944, 12 B-24D Liberator crew members took off from Texter Strip, Nazdab Air Field, New Guinea, on a mission to attack an anti-aircraft site at Hansa Bay. The aircraft was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the Madang Province, New Guinea. Four of the crewmen were able to parachute from the aircraft, but were reported to have died in captivity.
Following World War II, the Army Graves Registration Service (AGRS) conducted investigations and recovered the remains of three of the missing airmen. In May 1949, AGRS concluded the remaining nine crew members were unrecoverable.
In 2001, a U.S.-led team located wreckage of a B-24D that bore the tail number of this aircraft. After several surveys, DoD teams excavated the site and recovered human remains and non-biological material evidence.
To identify Jones’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Jones’ maternal niece.
To identify Johnston’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Johnston’s maternal cousins.
To identify Gardner’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gardner’s maternal niece and nephew.
To identify Young’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Young’s sister.
To identify Moore’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Moore’s niece and grand-niece.
To identify Bernier’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Bernier’s cousins.
To account for Poulsen and Copeland, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial evidence that placed them on the aircraft and accounted for as them as part of the group.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call 703-699-1169.
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
They died Dec. 12, in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the enemy attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. These soldiers were assigned to 3rd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
By Amaani Lyle
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2014 – The Defense Department released the quarterly suicide report for April through June of 2014, and the numbers, officials said, indicate a drop from first-quarter statistics for all services and components.
The second-quarter report summary showed 70 suicides among active duty service members, 14 suicides among Reserve component service members and 20 suicides among National Guardsmen.
In an off-camera briefing, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren reported comparison first quarter statistics of 74 active duty members, 24 Reservists and 22 National Guardsmen.
Possible Reasons for Decline in Suicides
Jacqueline Garrick, acting director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, said the decline could be attributable to the Defense Department’s vigilant efforts to better understand and identify at-risk service members and veterans, greater collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and increased peer-to-peer, online and telephone counseling resources.
“We’ve brought on qualified responders from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, many who have served in the military themselves and who understand that way of life,” Garrick said, “and we’re evaluating training to develop core competencies for peer, command, clinical and pastoral requirements.”
Still, Garrick noted fear of career damage remains one of the major obstacles between veterans in crisis and the path to treatment and counseling.
“The goal is to eliminate the stigma of getting help,” she said. “So there’s been an increase in first-level, peer-to-peer groups, which have made a difference in enabling people who fear they may be jeopardizing their career to reach out for care.”
Other resources, Garrick said, include a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year crisis line, online chat, and text-messaging service for veterans and service members of all statuses.
“This is free, confidential support for people who are having trouble, but also for people who want to help someone they see struggling,” she said.
Garrick noted that DoD and VA recognize the need to help transitioning service members, as some 250,000 separate or medically retire from the military each year.
“We’re developing a resiliency module for veterans training,” Garrick said. “We want to make sure when you see resources such as Military Crisis Line, Veterans Crisis Line and all that branding is the same, you begin to recognize that’s for you no matter what status you’re in.”
Suicide Factors, Overall Statistics
As the drawdown continues in Afghanistan, Garrick noted that while post-traumatic stress disorder is a common reaction to the rigors of deployments, recent wars are less relevant to current statistics than many realize.
“Just over half of service members who’ve attempted or died as a result of suicide have been deployed and less than 15 percent of that number had been in actual combat,” she said. “Far more common reasons for suicide are financial problems, relationship issues, depression or abuse.”
In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control listed suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. That year, there were 38,364 suicides — an average of 105 each day.
Garrick asserts that seeking help is a sign of strength, treatment works, and myriad resources remain available to current and former service members and their families.
“The problems that go unresolved only get worse and we know those have greater impacts on your life, your career, on your family,” she said. “So we would encourage anybody to intervene and act early – that’s the notion behind the power of one: everybody has the power to save a life.”
(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDODNews)
Department of Defense Releases Second Quarter Suicide Information
Military Crisis Line
The Defense Department on Facebook
The Defense Department on Twitter
DoD News on Facebook
DoD News on Twitter
DoD News Broadcast Channel
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
The Department of Defense announced today the death of an Airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
Capt. William H. Dubois, 30, of New Castle, Colorado, died Dec. 1 when his F-16 aircraft crashed near a coalition air base in the Middle East. He was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.
For more information media may contact the 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office at 803-895-2019.
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
They died Nov. 24, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the enemy attacked their vehicle with a vehicle borne improvised explosive device.
Spc. Joseph W. Riley, 27, of Grove City, Ohio. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
For more information on Turner, contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at 315-772-8286, or at 315-523-4546.
For more information on Riley, contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office during duty hours at 910-432-0661, or after duty hours at 910-309-5561, 910-309-3827, or 910-587-0278.