Editor’s Note: This patch looks more like something you would award an Islamic army rather than an American one.
U.S. Army troops who take part in the campaign against the Islamic State will now receive an official patch for their effort.
The patch comes at a time when 3,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, which began in August 2014, The Washington Post reports.
It will likely be placed on the left shoulder. Unfortunately for all the other services involved, only the Army will receive the patch. The three stars represent the air, land and sea. The scimitars bring up memories of crossed blades near Baghdad, which were put in place by Saddam Hussein.
To be clear, none of these troops are engaged in ground combat against ISIS.
Rather, the troops are present to execute what’s been referred to as a ‘lily pad’ strategy by Army General Martin Dempsey, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The strategy is not particularly new. Retired Army lieutenant colonel Andrew Krepinevich wrote about the idea of “oil spots” of secured areas from which forces can then expand.
These lily pads support the operations of Iraqi security forces. When Iraqi forces move forward and reach their limit, U.S. teams step up and create new pads, allowing forward movement to proceed once again. But this same strategy has previously failed to work in Afghanistan, in the sense that safe regions have shrunk rapidly over the last several years. Escalating danger has restricted the movements of inspectors trying to visit sites, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko noted in 2013.
Despite support from U.S. forces and continuous air strikes, which started when the city of Mosul in Iraq was lost, ISIS still maintains control over a large amount of territory in Iraq and Syria.
No campaign medal or ribbon yet exists for the campaign. For now, troops will have to be satisfied with the patch.
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