With the anti-ISIS fight far from over, Spirit of America continues supporting the Peshmerga in Iraq
Though territorial ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, has been vanquished, the terrorist organization still maintains a significant number of fighters and supporters and has—predictably—reconstituted itself as an insurgency group capable of carrying out coordinated attacks. Earlier this year, a Special Operations Forces (SOF) officer stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan reached out to Spirit of America to identify urgent needs for their Peshmerga Commandos partners. The elite Peshmerga platoon routinely conducted anti-ISIS operations in remote parts of Sulaymaniyah province. Developing their capacity was crucial to keep up the pressure on the group.
To conduct effective multi-day operations, the Commandos required several items to improve their operational capability. These needs included:
- Binoculars to assist with land navigation and situational awareness.
- Rain jackets to protect soldiers from the elements during training and operations.
- Rucksacks to carry supplies on longer missions.
- Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs), which along with training by SOF team, allow Peshmerga commandos to provide life-saving care to each other.
- Multi-tools for equipment maintenance and repair.
- Compasses and GPS for short and long-distance movements and patrolling.
Given the nature of the threat, our team moved quickly. Less than a month after the Commando needs were identified to Spirit of America, the supplies were delivered. In late October, I traveled to the Commando camp and met with their leadership as well as their American SOF advisors. Site visits are an important part of our follow-through efforts to ensure that our projects have been implemented in an accountable manner. Both sides emphasized how “valuable” the equipment provided by SoA was “for training and real-world operations.”
We also received written feedback from the SOF platoon leader who noted how the “training was enhanced” when they utilized the SoA-provided equipment. According to the platoon leader, the equipment “increased our partner’s capabilities to conduct multi-day, long-range operations against ISIS effectively in austere locations while minimizing risk to the force.” Just as importantly, the provisions “directly” improved the relationship between the SOF element and the Peshmerga Commandos, and increased their credibility.
Projects like this showcase Spirit of America’s ability to rapidly respond to urgent situations and to provide targeted support when and where it’s needed most. As a standalone effort, this project achieved the results we were after. But taken all together, this initiative, along with several more like it across northern Iraq, reflect the growing sophistication of our work, and our ability to bind different actions to achieve greater combined effects.