Airmen will be “front and center” in the deployment of special operations teams to Iraq, service Secretary Deborah Lee James said on Dec. 2. The teams, dubbed the “expeditionary targeting force,” will be made up of about 100 troops and will “assist the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga to put even more pressure on ISIL,” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters in a video teleconference from Baghdad also on Wednesday. The force’s special operators will conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIS leaders, Warren said. Air Force mobility forces will bring the troops to the fight, and battlefield airmen—such as combat controllers and pararescuemen—will be a part of the special operations teams. Air Force combat search and rescue crews also will provide support, James said during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The details of the deployment are still being determined, but James emphasized that the Air Force will be an integral part of the teams, which she said will improve the “deliberate targeting” of ISIS members in Iraq. Defense Secretary Ash Carter first announced the deployment during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Dec. 1. Though the force will be in Iraq, the troops also will “be in a position to conduct unilateral operations in Syria,” Carter said. (See also Ramping Up the ISIS Fight.)
Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and head of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, is pushing a “portfolio” approach to requirements and wants his position to have “more teeth” so he can enforce it.