SAN DIEGO. December 31, Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) were on their way to support the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Haunting images of Benghazi surged to life as volatile protesters stormed the embassy compound throwing rocks, lighting fires, and chanting “Down Down, USA.”
Lessons learned from the 2012 attack in Libya that killed four Americans inspired the Marine Corps to put a focus on readiness for crises such as these. SPMAGTF Marines are ready to go 24/7 to any hot spot on the globe. They are uniquely-trained, weapons proficient, and carry a lethal punch.
Their mission is to defend and protect American personnel, assets, and sovereign territory under attack or threat.
Violent attackers should expect a response from forces there to help Iraq.
Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper announced Tuesday,
“The Department of Defense is working closely with the Department of State to ensure the security of our Embassy and personnel in Baghdad. We have taken appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens, military personnel and diplomats in country, and to ensure our right of self-defense.”
The U.S.’s right to self-defense is what allegedly spurred the swarms of protesters. Those sympathetic to Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group in Iraq and Syria, are angry as a result of a recent U.S. defensive precision counter-strike against KH. The counter strike coming after Shiite Militia launched 30+ rockets, killing an American civilian and injuring four U.S. troops on an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk. Additionally, two Iraqi Security Forces members were injured.
Kata’ib Hizbollah makes their message clear.
KH receives lethal aid, support from Iran to attack Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) forces. OIR Coalition forces work with the Iraqi government and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to drive ISIS out of Iraq and have successfully done so. This has allowed some level of peace and prosperity to take hold of Iraqi civilians. Iraq is more independent for its own security, as a result of Coalition efforts to train and support.
Iran-backed militias shatter that peace and became so bold as to go after the U.S. as well as Iraq’s own ISF forces. President Trump rang in the New Year with this tweet,
….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
Protesters want the US Embassy Baghdad closed.
The angry mob tried to breach the reinforced U.S. Embassy compound gate with a battering ram.
“Dozens of protesters, many of whom are reported to be wearing militia uniforms, are said to have come within 200 yards of the embassy after busting through an entrance used by cars,” reports Fox News.
U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopters from 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, launched flares as a show of presence while providing additional security and deterrence against attacks on the U.S. Embassy Baghdad. Army personnel provided overwatch of the developing chaos.
Iraq’s government mandate to protect the international forces they host.
Sec. Esper continues,
“We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy. As in all countries, we rely on host nation forces to assist in the protection of our personnel in country, and we call on the Government of Iraq to fulfill its international responsibilities to do so. The United States continues to support the Iraqi people and a free, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq.”
Developing story – will update as official information becomes available.
UPDATE January 01, 2019,
Approximately 750 infantry soldiers from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to U.S. Central Command area of operations, Iraq, says Defense Secretary Esper. Additional IRF forces are prepared to leave over the next several days. The DoD deployments come at the direction of Commander in Chief Trump.
Increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities witnessed in Baghdad Tuesday warrant this response. Esper deemed it “appropriate and precautionary action.” The U.S. is committed to protect American people and interests worldwide.
Featured Image. BAGHDAD, IRAQ, Dec. 31, 2019. U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopters from 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, conduct overflights of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The helicopters launched flares as a show of presence while providing additional security and deterrence against protesters. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Khalil Jenkins, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs