On Saturday,19 March,US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Louis F. Cardin,27,of Temecula,California,was killed in a rocket attack by ISIL militants on his small outpost near Makhmur,Iraq,south of the ISIL stronghold of Mosul.Several other Marines were wounded in the barrage.In response,the US is sending an additional detachment from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit,Camp Lejeune,North Carolina.This is being done following consultations with the Iraqi government.The size of the detachment is undisclosed.*
Mosul is a city of a million people and its recapture is a major goal of Operation Inherent Resolve,the multinational anti-ISIL effort to which both the US and Iraq belong,along with many other NATO and Middle Eastern allies.*
SSGT Cardin was a member of the 2nd Battalion,6th Marine Regiment,26th MEU.He was providing force protection fire support at a recently established coalition fire base near Makhmur in Northern Iraq.His is the second combat death in OIR,and reminds us of the risks our men and women in uniform face every day.Our thoughts and prayers are with the service members involved,their families and their coalition teammates who will continue the fight against ISIL with resolve and determination,Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement on 19 March.*
Update:According to US officials,the fire base is called Fire Base Bell.It has about 200 Marines and an artillery battery.The artillery is to protect US and allied forces who are based nearby on a train,advise and assist mission;but also to help the Iraqi Security Forces in orchestrating their buildup to the Battle of Mosul.The plan is that,eventually,the US Army will assume control of Fire Base Bell,as the Battle of Mosul draws nearer.*
Thursday,the Marines of Fire Base Bell helped the ISF launch their Mosul campaign by firing illumination rounds so the ISF could see the ISIL militants;then the Marines opened up with artillery shells to assist the ISF in recapturing several villages near Makhtour from the Islamist extremists,which was indeed accomplished.