Mosul, Iraq (TFC)– Another US soldier has died as the result of Iraq’s third American-involved war. The operative’s death both shadows the new Mosul offensive, and a massive US troop surge launched shortly before. Those forces, like this most recent casualty, are almost entirely dark shades of special forces.
Chief Petty Officer Jason C. “JJ” Finan died as a result of wounds sustained by an improvised explosive device. Few details are currently available, and officials are cautious to admit Finan was directly involved in the battle. Islamic State militants have held Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest, since the beginning of the war. Militants seized the town with American arms and vehicles, with many Iraqi forces retreating without a fight. Many Iraqi soldiers stripped their fatigues, vests, and put down their guns fleeing the Islamic State’s hard-charge from Syria.
Finan was reputedly attached to a Navy SEAL team as an explosive ordnance disposal technician. According to Military.com, his specific SEAL team is being withheld at this time. Finan marks the second officially dead Navy SEAL, the other being Charles Keating.
This also isn’t the first time Iraqi forces have attempted to recapture the city. In April of this year, a US surge was launched allegedly to aid a Mosul offensive. It was during this time that Iraqi fighters reported an “independent” American base had been constructed. Sources claimed the base housed hundreds of US forces, as well as their artillery. What the soldiers were doing, and whether it’s still operational, is unknown.
Officials denounced Iraqi reports, with Colonel Steve Warren claiming “there are no undercover missions.” Warren’s honesty is in sharp question however, after operatives were photographed in an Syrian village.
The unidentified unit wore Kurdish and American patches, but no name tags. Col. Warren first stated the patches are traditional in clandestine units to show solidarity with natives. That only lasted until headlines circulated claiming the unit was reprimanded, and ordered to remove the patches. Warren then stated the patches were “unauthorized” and “inappropriate”.
Over 100 US special operations troops are reported to be “embedded” with indigenous forces for the battle for Mosul. American officials have gradually acknowledged the role of their forces in ground combat against ISIS over recent months. This has been in part due to the deaths of special operations forces and marines, such as Navy SEAL Charles Keating. Following Keating’s death, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called it “a combat death, of course.”
US troop numbers seem to have only risen since Obama’s 2011 “withdrawal” from Iraq. In actuality, conventional forces were gradually replaced by special operations until ISIS sprang forth. With those conventional forces now absent, contractors and SpecOps now own Iraq.
Chief Petty Officer Finan joins four other Americans and a Canadian who’ve been killed since 2014. All of the deaths are vague, and no elaboration was provided after initial headlines. One soldier, Corporal Jordan Spears, died before the war was named Operation: Inherent Resolve. Following that, Lance Corporal Sean P. Neal was killed in a “non-combat incident” while serving with his mortar squad. Canadian special forces sergeant Joseph Dorion preceded them all, killed by friendly Kurdish forces who mistook him for ISIS.
Unlike these obscure incidents, leaked footage allegedly depicting the last firefights of two American special forces operatives circulated after their deaths. Quite the turnaround from the entirely nontransparent deaths of Spears, Neal, Dorion, and marine Staff Sergeant Cardin isn’t it? Cardin was allegedly killed by Islamic State rocket fire while stationed at a front line outpost. With his death, US officials were forced to admit their forces weren’t as “secure” as they’d let on. The outpost Cardin died at, which his unit built from the ground up, was called Fire Base: Bell. It’s unknown if the “fire base” is still operational, or if Americans still occupy it with native fighters.
A day after Finan, a Army soldier in Afghanistan was also reported killed. Army Sgt. Douglas J. Riney was killed alongside an “American civilian employee” Michael G. Sauro in Afghanistan’s capital. Though accounts of what happened are hazy, some indicate a man in Afghan Army uniform killed the pair. Riney’s death is significant in that it should remind Americans of the real combat which continues in Afghanistan. We haven’t left.
Much focus is placed on Iraq and Syria these days, overshadowing one of America’s longest running wars. Despite the skewed media coverage, the war is there, the casualties are real, but the operations are entirely blacked out. The longer the war continues, the more soul’s it’ll consume as it grows, and darkens.