Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Keating IV, 31, of San Diego, Calif., was part of a quick reaction force responding to a call for help from an advise and assist team near Tal Asquf, Iraq, when he was killed by gunfire Tuesday, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve told reporters Wednesday. The advise and assist team had come under intense fire after ISIS forces “breached the peshmerga forward lines,” Army Col. Steve Warren said in a video briefing. Keating, a Navy SEAL, was hit by direct fire and medevaced, but did not survive. Because American troops were under fire, the US sent F-15s, F-16s, B-52s, A-10s, and drones into the fight, as well as Black Hawk helicopters for the medevac, Warren said. Air power destroyed 20 enemy vehicles, two truck bombs, three mortar systems, and a bulldozer, and killed 58 members of ISIS, Warren said. Though Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday said Keating “was in a firefight and he died in combat,” Warren said the US mission in OIR “remains to advise, assist, train, equip our partner forces both here in Iraq and in Syria.” Still, Warren noted later, less than 1,000 of the roughly 4,000 US troops in Iraq are performing the advise and assist mission.
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.