Peter Brookes: Big win for Delta Force in Syria: A reminder of how lucky we are this Memorial Day
As we roll into Memorial Day weekend, commemorating America’s fallen service members — but really all our troops — you can’t help but feel a sense of pride about the U.S. special ops raid last weekend that took down a senior Islamic State leader.
In case you missed it: In a daring airborne assault, the U.S. Army’s Delta Force flew from Iraq into eastern Syria and killed the Islamic State’s “chief financial officer,” a Tunisian who went by the nom de guerre, Abu Sayyaf — or “bearer of the sword.”
Abu Sayyaf was the Islamic State’s money man, responsible for running its black market oil and natural gas operation — possibly amounting to millions of dollars a day that go to fund the caliphate and its marauding terrorist army.
Reportedly there was a fierce firefight with the terrorists at the Abu Sayyaf compound, including the Islamic State’s use of “human shields.” But not only were our troops able to get the target, they were also able to whisk Abu Sayyaf’s wife off to Iraq.
Beyond the intelligence that (Mrs.) Umm Sayyaf might spill to interrogators in Baghdad, our operators were also able to scoop up a potential treasure trove of materials at the compound.
From the computers, flash drives, cellphones, papers, etc., that U.S. forces took during the risky raid, we might be able to mine a mother lode about Islamic State operations, plans, resources and leadership.
Not only did we get in and out without losing anyone, senior Islamic State leaders must be very nervous. The Caliph & Co. won’t sleep well knowing that no matter where they hide, they’re not safe.
A big “win” for our guys and gals.
Now contrast this seemingly flawless U.S. operation with the performance of the Iraqi troops in Ramadi, where they were run out of town — at about the same time — by the Islamic State, despite U.S. air strikes.
While the final battle for Ramadi likely isn’t over, the loss of the capital city of Anbar province — Iraq’s largest province and a mere 70 miles from Baghdad — is a significant symbolic and psychological victory for the Islamic State.
As long as the Islamic State seems to be on the move, it’ll draw more foot soldiers, followers and funding. It’s likely to be a very long summer in Iraq, straining the current strategy — now hotly called into question.
The point here is that we don’t always realize how lucky we are.
By far, we have the world’s finest, most capable military, populated by courageous men and women who go into harm’s way across the globe to keep us safe as demonstrated by the recent raid.
In fact, we’ve got it so good we easily forget how good we’ve got it.
So this Memorial Day, take a moment from the beach, the barbecue and all the things that say “It’s summer!” to remember those who have died in defense of our country, our living veterans and those who are serving today.
To express a little gratitude through kind deeds, thoughts and prayers on this special holiday is the very least we can — or should — do for our brave American forces past and present who have selflessly given us so much.
Peter Brookes is a retired Navy Commander and the father of an Army Captain. He scribbles here about the outdoors whenever he can. Brookesoutdoors@gmail.com.