International SF in Mosul

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The battle for Mosul in Iraq is going on right now, being fought by Iraqi troops, Kurdish Peshmerga, and some Turkish elements against entrenched Daesh right now. However, there is a significant amount of international coalition SF groups that are helping these local forces call in air strikes, direct close air support, and otherwise facilitate assets that various nations are bringing to the table against Daesh.

Of these SF forces, we have a relative newcomer to the direct action game, Marine Special Operations Command. Now, the command really bit their teeth in Afghanistan, but Iraq and Syria will be the first large conflict that MARSOC will participate in (Raiders have a number of smaller commitments all over the world, but none so large as Iraq and Afghanistan). Indeed, this presence is no secret if you have been following various defense publications

The Marine Corps presence in Iraq also extends beyond conventional forces. Earlier this year, a Marine Corps colonel with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command took charge of the staff element for Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Iraq, marking the first time MARSOC had formed and deployed a full joint special operations task force staff. That task force, which operates out of an undisclosed location in country, oversees special operations troops from every service.

Images of the SF group have been released via a number of news outlets, in addition to some well sighted forum posters. MARSOC appears to be embedded with the Kurdish Peshmerga, rather than the Iraqi forces. Sources in Iraq have also said that the majority of U.S. lead airpower is being tasked out to helping the Kurds attack the city from the North East. A possible reason for this is that the Kurds really don’t have any air power, and need all the extra help they can get, whereas the Iraqi forces have at least some internal air assets.

Cu_h2UHWYAA7K1v mosul iraq peshmerga forces soldiers

Something else that we are seeing are MAT-Vs. These certainly are not Kurdish as the U.S. hasn’t given many of them out to our allies yet. All the MAT-Vs seen are equipped with .50 BMG M2 remote gun stations, where the gunner can select targets and fire from inside the vehicle. In addition, check out the JAV missiles strapped to the truck. I’m assuming that the oddly shaped antenna on the rear of the truck are satellite communications.

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The SEAL teams seem to be present with the Kurds as well, as it looks to be them appearing with a number of Kurdish groups in their distinctive AOR1 DEVGRU camo pattern.

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Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Uniform223

    I am guessing US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) are also somewhere in the mix (although not mentioned) somewhere in Iraq.

    • Gus Butts

      Nobody ever bothers to even mention or share pictures of CSOR anywhere… of their two operators.

    • 11b

      The only ones professional enough to remain quiet. I’m sure there will be 3 or 4 SEAL books to come out of Mosul, followed by tours on the speaking circuit.

      • CommonSense23

        Yes. So professional. Cause no one remembers all the books that came out early on from Afghanistan. Or the number one hit song from Vietnam or awesome movie. SF isn’t pumping out books cause no one wants to read about FID.

  • Alvar

    Mulan, Elsa… cool names on those MAT-Vs. 🙂

    • PK

      Disney princesses.

      They labeled the MAT-Vs with the names of Disney Princesses.

      • Ron

        Disney’s Mulan is an adaptation of the Ballad of Mulan that tells the tale of legendary women warrior from 420–589 China, Hua Mulan

        • PK

          Interesting! I never looked into that. What about the other one, Elsa? Did Disney base that character on something interesting as well?

          • Ron

            She is the Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, on frigid Norwegian women.

            They exist :O

  • B-Sabre

    In addition, check out the JAV missiles strapped to the truck. I’m assuming that the oddly shaped antenna on the rear of the truck are satellite communications.
    That or the latest iteration of IED jammers.

    • Ron

      There are numerous bands of communications covered by those antennas along with ECM.

    • Martin M

      Sorry, but those are just UHF/VHF multi-band antennas on a mast.

      IED jammers have very small antennas.

      • Ron

        I think you may be thinking of some of the older Jammers like the Warlock; some of the of the newer ones use ground plane antennas similar to OEs

  • Joshua

    It looks like the British L129A1 in the very top picture.

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      That’s a Minimi.

  • Martin Grønsdal

    that “hate” patch…. I hate it

    • Bill

      It goes well with the beard, shades and inevitable sleeve tats.

    • Ron

      US military operations are fueled by coffee, Copenhagen and hate.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Yessir. True story.

      • Martin Grønsdal

        Copenhagen? I’d get my kick in the butt from Oslo, but not anything Danish. Oh, except Lego

        • Rock or Something

          Copenhagen is a brand of chewing tobacco.

      • 11b

        And Rip-it.

        • Ron

          Rip-its are the reason so many now suffer from Kidney Stones

      • n0truscotsman

        Not just any Copenhagen either. Snuff, to be specific. Or wintergreen.

        A big thing when I was over there was Wild Tigers. Good stuff. God only knows what the ‘long term’ effects are from drinking it regularly.

  • Wetcoaster

    Isn’t it a contradiction of their covert nature for DEVGRU to have a unique camo pattern?

    • Harry’s Holsters

      If these guys are support why not role up and Khaki or the easily available multicam. Khaki would really throw people for a loop.

      • Wetcoaster

        Hey, I’m sure all the other SF and mercs are happy to have someone else paint themselves as a High Value Target, but seriously, it’s not like multicam, MARPAT, ACU, etc. etc. is hard to get. With all the patterns out there, the only reason I can think of is vanity.

        Although it would be pretty funny if the SEALs actually were just wearing plain OD, and this was some contractor wearing airsoft duds

        • Harry’s Holsters

          Yeah that would be funny. OR if the seals covered everything in a man dress and wore their ballistic helmets!

    • 11b

      If there’s one thing I know about SEALs it’s that tact and ‘blending in with local populations’ are not their specialties. They are very very good at one thing- breaching a door and shooting people in the face.

    • n0truscotsman

      Yes it is, which is why, IMO, special operations have forgotten the lessons and TTPs their forefathers applied a generation ago. This is all part of the greater, hollywood-esque, vanity, narcissistic culture and operator worship.

      Its not a popular opinion, but they’re never convenient in certain ‘rah rah rah’ echo chambers anyways.

      • Wetcoaster

        I’m sure soldiers from more low-key outfits are more than happy for someone else to step up and write “HIGH VALUE TARGET” all over their foreheads though

        • n0truscotsman

          Probably. Some soldiers nowadays are more concerned with getting pieces of ribbon and bragging rights than actually *doing their damn jobs* and serving the republic.

          People love notoriety I suppose. Its more fun than being prepared for the absolute worst case scenario, which is the bad guys get saavy on our SOF and start targeting them and learning their TTPs.

      • CommonSense23

        Ok, so NSW is supposed to develop the most effective military in camo in the world and not wear it? To what, try to blend in with who. From my personal experience SOF got engaged less than standard personnel due to standing out. The guys who truly want to fight are going to engage anybody they come across. The guys who are half hearted don’t want to hit hard targets.
        You bring up learning SOF SOPS and adapting? What special tricks are SOF using? There is nothing special about SOF tactics. It’s the basics executed extremely well. There is no special land warfare techniques. No special CQB tactics that you can’t find on YouTube. No magical shooting techniques.
        Forgotten what lessons and TTPs? SOCOM is at the most capable its ever been. You want to go back to the 80s and 90s where guys had absolutely no clue what they were doing?

    • Tim

      It’s not DEVGRU only. IIRC it’s in use across the entire NSW command. Plus other Navy forces (Seabees, etc) are supposed to be issued it when doing work on land in the relevant areas.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Was one of the kurds carrying a MK18 with and Elcan?

    He appeared to have US great but a kurdish uniform.

    • Ron

      Those guys are not Kurds

    • Joshua

      Marine Raiders.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        So is it a raider in a Kurdish uniform or some sort of Kurdish SF. All the American looking soldiers behind him seem to be dressed in different uniforms.

        • Ron

          Woodlands were brought back by US-SOF near the end of the AFG because big army was wearing multicam and it blending better with the uniforms we gave the Afghan Security Forces.

        • J.T.

          Raider. Look at the helmet, there is a US flag patch on it.

          • Harry’s Holsters

            Thanks!

  • Me

    It appears everyone is using a pic rail in these pictures. I know the csass maybe will have mlok but does anyone know if any elites are using mlok or keymod already?

  • Phillip Cooper

    But hey, no US Forces on the ground in Iraq.. combat operations there are over…

  • Kalash

    US NAVY SEALS actually have no “unique” camo patterns, they wear whatever the heck they want because…SEALs. 🙂

  • Trey Heldmann

    God Bless our Troops, thank you to all who serve.

  • 360_AD

    “A possible reason for this is that the Kurds really don’t have any air power, and need all the extra help they can get, whereas the Iraqi forces have at least some internal air assets.”

    And no mention of the obvious reason? Thanks to post-invasion mismanagement, the recognized Iraqi government is effectively an Iranian proxy. And, obviously, Iran is at odds with all of the long time US allies in the region. Overtly assisting the Iraqis would not go well over with those allies.

  • Bear The Grizzly

    The real question is where did he get that sweet “hate” patch. Any ideas?

    • Evan

      I know SEAL Team 3, Echo platoon, has a patch that says “Embrace the Hate”. I’m guessing it could be related to that.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    Yet more proof that combat beyond 200 yards rarely ever happens. Oh, wait – this is pretty normal, which is why we should adopt a new round for our assault rifles that has a better ballistic coefficient (like the 6.5 Grendel).

    • Uniform223
      • n0truscotsman

        LOL off subject, but I told my wife thats what I’m doing with my hair next, since its been over a year since i cut it. She’s not remotely amused. 😀

        • Uniform223

          DO IT!!!

          I picked that gif because there was no other way for me to convey how I was feeling towards that comment. I believe this is the best and most accurate representation.

        • Evan

          You’d go out of your way to look that ridiculous?

          • n0truscotsman

            of course I would. Its either that or dreadlocks.

            I spent the first half of my life with a high n’ tight. Im making up for lost time.

          • Evan

            Half your life with a high and tight? I feel for you. I had a high and tight when I was a boot and they made me get one. After that, it was low reg all the way until EAS. But there is a happy medium between high and tight and that monstrosity, which is essentially a high and tight grown out to absurd levels. Also, I hate that show with a burning passion, because you would think the History Channel of all places would at least try to get SOME history right, but no. They can’t even get the characters’ names right.

          • n0truscotsman

            I just like the hair, however big of a monstrosity it may be 😀

    • Ron

      Most long range fire is area fire and mass is more important than precision.

  • Emperius

    These SF guys know they’re being used by expanding central banking operations? Difference to serve vs. be used by the elite is clear.