Friday, August 25, 2017


A rare instance of good use of our tax euros. Belgian Special Forces take up position on top of a building in Tal Afar as the Iraqi Army's operation to drive IS out of that town unfolds:

Via ABCNews:

Iraqi Forces said Wednesday they have captured two neighborhoods on the edge of the Islamic State-held town of Tal Afar.

Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah, who commands the operation, said special forces drove the militants from al-Kifah al-Janoubi on the southwestern edge of the town, and that federal police and paramilitary units took al-Kifah al-Shamali in the northwest.

Iraqi leaders often declare areas liberated when some fighting is still underway.

Last month, Iraq declared victory over IS in Mosul, the country's second largest city, after a grueling nine-month campaign. The Tal Afar operation began Sunday, and is aimed at driving IS from one of the last major pockets it controls in Iraq.

As in Mosul, the U.S.-led coalition is providing airstrikes as well as other forms of support to Iraqi troops, and U.S. and other special forces are operating near the front lines.

British Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, the coalition's deputy commander, said Iraqi forces are off to a "really positive start" and are "closing the noose" around the militants.

"The key is that they've broken into the city," he told Pentagon reporters via videoconference from Baghdad.

The extremist group has lost most of the territory it seized when it swept across northern and central Iraq in the summer of 2014, and has also suffered major losses in Syria.

But the coalition estimates that the group still has some 2,000 fighters in Tal Afar and 2,500 in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where U.S.-backed Syrian forces are fighting the group.

So SecDef Vandeput really made good on his word, there are SF assisting the IA.

A couple of side notes:

a.) good that apparently a more appropriate camo has been issued, even if it's still a wood pattern in a desert environment, for the regular Belgian army camo would be totally out of place. Even though the pattern has its advocates, personally I have never been very fond, to say the least, about the typical jigsaw camo. You can see it in the video below.

b.) The guided missile system is the Israeli-made Rafael Spike-MR, of which the Belgian Army bought 66 systems for 41 million EUR in 2012. MR stands for, of course, medium range, and in Israel the system is dubbed as "Gil". The weight of the missile is 14 kg (30 lb 14 oz), and its minimum range is 200 m, while its maximum range is 2,500 m (1.6 mi). Given that IS has no armor save a couple of obsolete Russian tanks which by now have probably all been obliterated, the deployment of Spikes may seem overkill, but the missile is not only anti-tank as most articles accompanying these photos suggest, Spikes can also be used as anti-personnel weapons.

The following video shows Belgian troops testing the Spike for the first time in the NATO training area of Bergen-Hoehne, Germany.

In the Belgian Army and SF, the Spike replaces the old Milan systems.

c.) On top of that building there's also US troops from the 82nd Airborne, and their equipment provides an interesting study in contrast with the Belgian detachment's:

I guess that's a BGM-71 TOW. I'm a bit surprised these weapons are still in use, I thought that by now they had all been replaced by FGM-148 Javelins.

Video of that weapon:

d.) Belgian soldiers prefer to sit on concrete blocks, American soldiers apparently think they are on the beach.


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