In early 2003, long on confidence and short on foresight, the United States invaded Iraq and sent its despot into hiding. Fifteen years ago this month, we found him. (And that’s when our real challenges began.) Here, the harrowing story of Saddam Hussein’s capture, as told by those who pulled it off.
In the first weeks of the Iraq war, the Pentagon assembled a pack of playing cards denoting Iraq’s most wanted, the fifty-five figures in the Iraqi government and military deemed its most important targets. This is the story of the hunt for the Ace of Spades—the ruler of Iraq, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, known around the world simply as Saddam—told by those who caught him.
Saddam made his last public appearance on April 9, 2003, in the streets of Baghdad, as U.S. forces closed in on the Iraqi capital. Then he just disappeared. As months passed and priorities shifted, it seemed that our interest in finding him did, too. In May, President George W. Bush took to the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and, under a banner reading mission accomplished, proclaimed major combat operations over; the U.S. government established its own interim government in Baghdad, called the Coalition Provisional Authority; and more than 150,000 U.S. troops settled in to occupy post-Saddam Iraq.
In fact, the search for Saddam, aka “High Value Target #1,” never stopped, particularly in areas where U.S. intelligence suspected he might be found: northwest of the capital, around Tikrit and the area that would later be labeled the Sunni Triangle—reflecting the ancestral roots of Saddam’s Sunni backers. That work fell to the roughly thirty thousand troops of the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division, working alongside a special team of Delta Force operators known as Task Force 121
Major General Ray Odierno / Getty Images
Major General Ray Odierno, commander, Fourth Infantry Division:
[Iraqis] feared Saddam. They feared he would come back. To them, he was all-powerful, almost like this mystical figure. The fact that he’d gotten away made him even more mystical. The longer that he was free, the more mystical it got.
Ambassador Paul Bremer, administrator, Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq: He was a presence—or an absence, more accurately—in everything we were doing.
Andy Card, White House chief of staff: We were always frustrated not to have captured Saddam.
Odierno: We were chasing the card deck. We realized that was not going to help us capture him—he had a whole other network that supported his moving around, based on ties from his childhood, family, other relationships he had. Very few of the ties were within the Iraqi government.
The leaders of our special-operations forces came to see me. We made an agreement to work closely on capturing Saddam.
The toppling of a Saddam statue in the heart of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, just days after U. S. forces arrived in the capital | Gilles Bassignac/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Major Brian Reed, operations officer, First Brigade, Twenty-second Infantry, Fourth Infantry Division: There was a sense in the brigade, and with the special task force that we were working with, that Saddam was going to come back to where he was from, given his lineage, his tribal linkages, familial linkages.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell | Shutterstock
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell, commander, First Battalion, Twenty-second Infantry, Fourth Infantry Division: Our orders were to occupy Tikrit. This was Saddam’s hometown, 97 percent Sunni.
Reed: It wasn’t a place that welcomed us with open arms.
Colonel James Hickey, commander, First Brigade, Fourth Infantry Division: Historically, Tikrit is an interesting piece of ground: It’s on the east-west route along the Tigris, one of the great rivers of the world. We were just one of the armies that had passed through—along with the Persians, the British, the Turks, the Romans. It’s the crossroads of history. It’s the Iraqis who stay.
Captain Bradley Boyd, commander, Charlie Company, First Battalion, Twenty-second Infantry, First Brigade, Fourth Infantry Division: We assumed Saddam and his supporters weren’t hanging out in town. But we thought they were passing through town on a regular basis. I thought we’d catch him by accident on the side of the road.
Staff Sergeant Eric Maddox | Courtesy
Staff Sergeant Eric Maddox, interrogator, U. S. Army: If you look at how we got [the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi, how we got bin Laden, it was cell phones. You ain’t finding those guys without cell phones. There was not a single cell phone used to track any part of this hunt. We had to use HUMINT [human intelligence] from prisoners exclusively.
The Special Forces team and I started to pursue individuals who we learned about from prisoners. And that gave us new prisoners, and through their interrogations, they started to talk about a certain family—the al-Muslits—and their former role as a bodyguard family for Saddam.
Russell: The biggest breakthrough came in June, when two businessmen came to a complaint center we’d set up for Iraqis. We got some chairs, some Pepsis, put them in a cool place in the building, and for the next two and a half hours, they sketched out on butcher paper Saddam’s security apparatus: half a dozen families, cronies who had been with him since the 1950s, people related by blood or marriage. It was like sketching out Tony Soprano’s family.
Major Michael Rauhut, operations officer, First Battalion, Fourth Infantry Division: We were given what turned out to be a treasure trove of context.
Joseph Fred Filmore, translator, Fourth Infantry Division: We grabbed so many of his inner-circle guards. Lieutenant Colonel Russell had a big map with the families and the tribes. Every time we came from a raid, we discovered this tribe married a girl from this one, this one was close to this tribe. It was painstaking.
Hickey: There were a handful of guys we were really looking for. One was named Hadooshi, and one was named Mohammed Ibrahim al-Muslit.
As the spring progressed, intelligence led the task force and the Fourth Infantry Division to zero in on the Hadooshi farm, ten miles outside of Tikrit. On June 18, they raided it.
Staff Sergeant Sean Shoffner, scout platoon, First Battalion, Twenty-second Infantry, Fourth Infantry Division: We went in to scout the Hadooshi farm. We were gathering intelligence; there were quite a lot of buildings and compounds across the whole farm. We could see they were antsy. We went up to the gate, breached it. We caught them off guard. This one woman, she was just mean. Every time we walked through the garden, she went nuts. We noticed the garden was freshly dug. We started moving the dirt around, and we pulled up a big square riveted container. Reed: We recovered $8 million [in U. S. currency] out of a hole.
Saddam’s gold-plated firearms. | Cliff Owen/AP
Filmore: In the stable, we saw, like, four huge boxes buried. We saw some jewelry, also buried.
Shoffner: We came across birth certificates, marriage licenses. We knew it was significant.
Filmore: The soldiers’ jaws dropped, like, three miles down to the floor. So much jewelry. Then they opened the money in front of me, and I couldn’t believe it: $10,000 bundles of hundred-dollar bills in Chase Manhattan Bank wrappers. I can still see it.
Hickey: We pulled in [Saddam’s wife] Sajida Talfah’s jewelry collection, literally like half a dozen garbage bags full of gems.
Odierno: Everything is gold—gold jewelry, you have earrings, rings, little knives, everything you think that would be in a treasure chest, a gold-plated AK-47.
Rauhut: You don’t just find $8 million. If we had any doubts before that time on whether or not we were acting on good information, that was a confirmation.
Through the summer and fall, the political situation in Iraq deteriorated rapidly and a new threat to American soldiers began to appear: roadside IEDs, improvised explosive devices that in the years to come would kill and wound thousands of Americans. The intensity of combat rose significantly. In October, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz visited the Fourth Infantry Division in Tikrit as part of a tour of Iraq. Meant as a sign of hope, the tour only underscored the challenge ahead: The next morning, Wolfowitz’s hotel in Baghdad was hit by a rocket attack, killing an American soldier and wounding at least fifteen others.
Russell: The enemy was clearly forming.
Captain Bradley Boyd | Getty Images
Boyd: We called it the “Traveling Roadshow.” The insurgency was in this transition from fedayeen fighters—Saddam loyalists—to the growing AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq]. They didn’t have the numbers to do a full press on the town, but guys would come in, start fighting, and the temperature would go up for a week or two until we got them or they moved on to another city.
Hickey: We had to do something strategic to bring the violence down. We couldn’t win tactically. So I said, “Let’s dust off everything we know about Saddam Hussein.” We kill or capture Saddam, that’s going to take the wind out of their sails. I couldn’t care less whether we killed or captured.
Boyd: By December we knew that Saddam was exploiting some seam to stay elusive.
Shoffner: It was like looking for Elvis.
Maddox: When we as a team decided to focus on Mohammed Ibrahim—and that’s where all our focus was—it was easy, because we didn’t give any stupid leads the time of day. The last few weeks before Saddam’s capture, it was one raid after the next to get to Mohammed Ibrahim.
Colonel James Hickey | Getty Images
Hickey: On December 9, a pleasant day, I was leaving the headquarters. I was rolling out the front gates, and a little boy was walking down the access road to our front gate. He’s screaming at us. He must have been nine years old, if that.
Specialist Esteban Bocanegra, First Brigade, Fourth Infantry Division: We pulled over. When Joseph and the colonel talked to this kid, we thought the kid was throwing rocks.
Filmore: The kid said there was a meeting of the fedayeen. I said, “Where?” He said, “Outside of town.”
Russell: It wasn’t “I know where some guys were.” It was “I know where some guys are.” He’s pointing us to this western desert farm.
Hickey: They ended up doing a raid and picked up a bunch of characters in two buildings in the desert west of Tikrit and pulled in a bunch of paraphernalia from the fedayeen.
President Bush’s premature declaration of “Mission Accomplished” on May 1, 2003. | Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images
Russell: We were able to determine a few locations in Tikrit, Samarra, and Baghdad where Mohammed Ibrahim might be. To prevent the whack-a-mole, we hit them all simultaneously.
Hickey: They scooped up a bunch of guys, handed them over to the interrogators.
Maddox: At the time, my tour was up. I was manifested to leave the country the morning of December 13 and had returned to Baghdad. The night of December 12, after the Baghdad team conducted the raid and brought back the prisoners from one of the houses, I started interrogating the prisoner they said owned the house and quickly realized that he was the deputy of the bodyguard, Mohammed Ibrahim. He eventually said, “I know where Ibrahim is. And by the way, he was at the house last night.” I went to the other prisoners and took off their hoods, and one of them was the bodyguard—it was Mohammed Ibrahim. I knew exactly what he was supposed to look like. Ibrahim was supposed to have a chin like John Travolta’s. When I took the hood off him, it was like, bam. I even said, “You’re Mohammed Ibrahim. I’ve been waiting to meet you.” He looked at me and said, “I’ve been waiting to meet you too.”
Hickey: [Maddox] recognized him because we had captured all these photographs. We shared it all with our special-operations guy. It probably sounds unbelievable, the combination of me talking to this young boy and this guy heading out on home leave and seeing a guy’s face he recognizes from photographs captured a few months prior—it comes together.
Paul Bremer, the highest-ranking U. S. official in Iraq at the time. | Joao Silva/The New York Times/Redux
Maddox: My pitch to him was “Saddam made you get involved. He’s the reason forty of your [family members] are in jail. You take us to Saddam, and I will let all forty go.” We went back and forth. He indicated he may know, but he didn’t want to do it. My time ran out, my flight was leaving the country, and I told Mohammed Ibrahim, “You are a terrorist, right? They will not let you out. They don’t think you can take us to Saddam. When I leave, your ship is gone. When you change your mind, you’re going to have to make them come talk to you. Bang on the walls of your cell. Go crazy.”
Our flight was leaving Baghdad at 8:00 in the morning. At 7:00 a.m., on the way to the airport, the head interrogator said, “They’re really worried. They think your prisoner is trying to kill himself. He’s banging on the walls of his cell and they can’t get him to stop.” I jumped out, went to the prison. I pulled Ibrahim into a cell and said, “Where is he?” He said, “I’m going to help you.” I said, “You’re not going to help us. You’re going to take us.”
Within hours of Ibrahim’s agreement to cooperate, Task Force 121 and the Fourth Infantry Division were ready for the final raid of the operation. Even fifteen years later, the U. S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) considers the Special Forces’ role classified and prohibited any operators from participating in interviews for this story. SOCOM says it will evaluate the operation for possible declassification in 2028.
Hickey: The field phone rang. It was John with the special-ops unit. [John is a pseudonym for a Task Force 121 team commander whose identity is still classified.] He said, “We got Ibrahim in Baghdad last night.” I said, “No shit?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “John, you know what we’re doing tonight? We’re going after Saddam.”
Rauhut: Steve tells me, “They’re coming up north with an informant. Saddam is either in Tikrit or across the river, so we’ve got to be ready.” That’s when it got real.
Special Agent James Davis | Getty Images
Special Agent James Davis, deputy on-scene commander, FBI Iraq Task Force: Early in the day, [Davis’s boss, FBI Special Agent Ed Worthington] called and said, “I can’t tell you anything. But round up a fingerprint expert, stat.” It was pretty clear to me what he was saying.
Reed: Colonel Hickey called me and said, “We caught the source who we were looking for, and he’s being brought up to Tikrit. I want you to link up with the task-force guys.”
Samir, translator, Task Force 121: They brought Ibrahim to us. Around 1:00 p.m., he showed us on a map where Saddam was supposed to be.
Reed: The questioning took place in a living room. Ibrahim was obviously frightened, having been caught, but the conversation proceeded easily. He was very willing to help.
Hickey: Just before 5:00 p.m., John said he thought Saddam was somewhere down in Ad-Dawr. I said, “That’s it.” Ad-Dawr had gotten very violent in October. It’s on the east side of the river, halfway between Tikrit and Samarra. We pulled out some aerial photographs. John said, “Ibrahim said something about ‘down by the river, by the junkyard.’ ” I knew exactly where that was: in the northwest part of town, next to the Qais family property. We’d had some shoot-outs there a few months prior.
Russell: Brian Reed, John, Colonel Hickey, and an operational planner hammered out the mechanics of the raid. Reed: On a piece of butcher paper, we drew a sketch of how we were going to do this thing. Then we transmitted those orders over the radio.
Russell: We’d narrowed the location down to a couple farms. All of these locations were to be simultaneously hit.
Hickey: We did it all with verbal orders, which is pretty rare.
Russell: Between the team going in on the raid, the overwatch, the security cordon, the armored vehicles, and the helicopters, roughly a thousand soldiers were involved.
Samir | Getty Images/Rusty Russell
Samir: We decided to take Ibrahim there in a civilian van. Me, him, and a team of Delta 121 forces drove through Tikrit and out to Ad-Dawr. At the start of the main road that led to the farm, a quarter mile away, Ibrahim said, “If you keep going, they’re going to know somebody’s here.”
Hickey: At precisely 1930 hours, we rolled out. We were completely blacked out. The artillerymen were in the shadows. You could see their silhouettes as they sealed up the road behind us.
Sergeant Major Larry Wilson, Twenty- second Infantry, Fourth Infantry Division: From Ibrahim, they got three targets: two primary targets, Wolverine One and Wolverine Two, and an alternate target, an old farmhouse. Once [the team raided] Wolverine One, dry hole—dry hole means no one’s there—Wolverine Two hit dry hole, and they were thinking, Wow, man. We missed him.
The Pentagon’s Ace of Spades | Mark Stewart/Camera Press/Redux
Hickey: It was just negative contact, negative contact. I’m thinking, Damn.
Wilson: Then they hit the farmhouse.
Hickey: John and [Captain Desmond] Bailey went down to the river line. Des set up a cordon. John and his guys cleared out the palm groves. There was a little lean-to with a kitchen next to where date palms and an orange grove came together, right on the edge of a fallow sunflower field. It was completely blacked out to the naked eye, but we had our night-vision equipment.
Russell: Operators coming in on the Little Birds [helicopters] encountered two men, Qais Namaq and his brother, fleeing through the orchard. I believe they hid Saddam, stashed their AKs, and took off, trying to divert the forces away from the location.
Hickey: John said to Des, “Looks like a dry hole.”
Samir: When we got to the farm, we captured two guys guarding Saddam. We couldn’t get any information from them, so we decided to come back with Mohammed Ibrahim.
Russell: They got Ibrahim out of the back of a Hummer. He was nervous; he didn’t want to be seen there.
Maddox: Ibrahim started yelling at the farmhouse owner, Qais Namaq, “Show him where Saddam is!” Qais said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Russell: They were pressuring him. “Where’s he at?” [Ibrahim] motioned with his foot toward a foot mat. “He’s here.” Now everyone was concerned. How deep was the hole? How many people were down there?
They brushed away the dirt and uncovered the top to something. John radioed to Colonel Hickey and [Delta Force squadron commander] Bill Coultrup, “We may have something.” It was 8:25 p.m. They pulled open the top and hit it with the weapon’s lights.
A view down the spider hole. | AFP/Getty Images
Samir: When we opened the hole, he started yelling, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!” I was yelling at him—because I was the only translator—to come out. Finally, he put one hand up, then the other. I grabbed both hands and got help to pull him out.
Hickey: It was Saddam.
Samir: I knew from his voice that it was him. I was raised in Iraq. We saw Saddam on television almost every day. I couldn’t recognize his face because he looked so different—he had a lot of hair on his face—but the voice, it was him.
Russell: The guy inside said, “I am Saddam Hussein, I am the president of Iraq, and I am willing to negotiate.” One of the soldiers said, “President Bush sends regards.”
Wilson: The hole [where Saddam was hiding] reminded me of a fighting position. It was about two M-16’s long. You could sit two people inside. There was a ventilation fan and a fluorescent light. He could’ve stayed there for a long time.
Task Force 121 translator Samir pulling Saddam out of the spider hole. | Planet Pix/Zuma Press
Samir: To end up to be the one who grabbed him first—I didn’t think too much about it. I wanted to get that son of a bitch out because he put me, my parents, and my country through hell.
Filmore: Samir started slapping him. The Special Forces took Saddam away and said, “You are not allowed to touch him. We need him alive.”
Hickey: Over the radio, John said, “Jackpot.” Bill Coultrup, his squadron commander, was right next to me. We hugged one another.
Bocanegra: We heard “Jackpot—Ace of Spades.” We were like, “No shit!” It was surreal. This was Saddam—where was his personal guard? No shots were fired. It was the opposite of what we’d expected.
Wilson: We heard “Jackpot.” It was said eight octaves higher than usual. Normally the Delta guys didn’t get excited, but this was a big deal.
Samir: We put him in a helicopter and flew him back to the Special Forces compound.
Bocanegra: We were pulling up as that helicopter was coming in blacked out, and you could see shadows and silhouettes. It was like, “Shit, there he goes.” They just took off.
Reed: We then did what’s called a tactical site exploitation.
Bocanegra: The sergeant major came back [to my vehicle] carrying a footlocker and told me to open it. It is $750,000 of American money in hundred-dollar bills.
"WHEN WE OPENED THE HOLE, HE STARTED YELLING, 'DON’T SHOOT, DON’T SHOOT!' I KNEW FROM HIS VOICE THAT IT WAS HIM."
Hickey: We were effectively done at 2030. It was a very early night.
Reed: It was textbook.
Odierno: This guy brutalized an entire population for at least two decades, and he ended up where he should have been—being pulled out of a hole in the middle of nowhere.
Hickey: Suffice it to say, nobody in Baghdad ever expected us to do this. They were caught unawares. There was a lot of scrambling going on.
Odierno: Nobody thought we’d find him.
Davis: No one thought we’d capture him alive.
Andy Card, White House chief of staff | Getty Images
Card: Paul Bremer called Condi [Rice]—she was the first to know. George Tenet called me. It was a nighttime call, late, probably 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. I was dubious at first. We were all excited, but we needed to make sure it was right. The president was cautious. He wanted to make sure we were 100 percent, that Saddam was identified. He said, “I don’t want anyone pounding their chest before we’re sure.” I remember the skepticism. “Do we really know it’s right? Are people too excited about this?”
Rauhut: Colonel Hickey had a conversation with [the commander of U. S. forces in Iraq] Lieutenant General [Ricardo] Sanchez. Jim said, “What’s next?” You know, the same thing we all were wondering: How do we leverage this? It became very clear, very quickly, that strategically, we didn’t plan for the capture of Saddam.
Dr. Mark Green | Courtesy
Dr. Mark Green, flight surgeon, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment: Saddam made a circuitous route back [to the Special Forces compound]. I’d already come back from the mission and had cleaned up my gear, so I thought, I’d better go over there and get a glimpse of this guy. I was standing outside his cell, and tons of people, all of these dignitaries, were coming and going. They were getting their picture taken with him.
Davis: We did a fingerprint, a DNA swab, and a photograph. Physically, he was in bad shape.
Green: Around midnight, I was still standing outside Hussein’s cell. [Special Forces Commander William] McRaven came out and said, “I want a physician with this guy overnight. Mark, will you stay with him?” I said, “Hell, yeah.” I grabbed an issue of Stars and Stripes. I thought I would read while Saddam was sleeping.
Fourth Infantry Division soldiers at the prop-styled spider hole. | Courtesy of Steve Russell
But he couldn’t sleep. He motioned for me to take his blood pressure. When you’re taking somebody’s blood pressure, you’re in their face and they’re in yours. He said to me through an interpreter, “I wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid, but politics had too great a hold of my heart.” This image of the Butcher of Baghdad taking the Hippocratic Oath—“Do no harm”—started a conversation that lasted five and a half hours. He was charming, a bit aloof. Obviously, I did not want to foul any of the ongoing investigations, so I didn’t ask questions about WMDs. My questions evolved from his political career—Why did you invade Kuwait? Why did you start the Iran–Iraq war?—to getting very personal. In the middle of our conversation, he asked which direction Mecca was; he turned and prayed, but he never kneeled.
It was now morning. The commander walked back in and asked what was going on. I said, “We’re just chatting.” He said, “We’ve got to get this on tape,” and I’m like, “Cool.” They get a camera. This little red dot comes on. Saddam lies down, pulls the covers over his head, doesn’t say another word. End of interview.
At a press conference on December 14, Bremer announced to the world the successful outcome of what the military had dubbed Operation Red Dawn, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.” He added, “Now is the time for all Iraqis, Arabs, and Kurds, Sunnis, Shia, Christians, and Turkmen to build a prosperous, democratic Iraq at peace with itself and with its neighbors.”
Bremer: There was an important political message to deliver. People in the audience were in tears, were shouting. It was quite a scene. Before I went out, a British spokesperson, Dan Senor’s British counterpart, introduced me to the idea of “We got him.” He was an Arabic speaker and knew that phrase worked in Arabic too.
Reed: I did not know what we’d named the operation until I was getting ready to watch the announcement. I asked my planner, “What did we name this thing?” This was before we had conventional naming systems, so we were basically naming stuff whatever we wanted to name it. He said, “Red Dawn.” I asked if it was named after the movie. He said, “Nah, I’ve never seen it, sir.” “Why would you name it Red Dawn?” “Because I’ve been watching the sunrise over the Tigris every morning, and it’s this really cool red dawn.”
Reed: At the time, I thought the war was over. I felt like we were starting to see the end of things.
Lieutenant Jason Lojka, second platoon leader, First Battalion, First Brigade, Fourth Infantry Division: The feeling was “We got him. Now we can go home.” After the euphoria of the capture wore off, I realized that was a very naive approach. We were not going home earlier than projected.
Card: It was closure to Saddam’s role, but it wasn’t closure to the challenges in Iraq.
Green: Saddam was probably thinking, I’m going to ride out the rest of my life in a nice American jail.
Bremer: One of the military plans had been to remove Saddam to a ship in the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, in the Persian Gulf. I said, “Absolutely not. He belongs to the Iraqis.” It was very important that we allow the Iraqi people to put him on trial.
The Butcher of Baghdad’s incorrectly dated mug shot. | FBI
Odierno: When I left in April 2004, I felt like we were heading in the right direction. But it’s like everything else with Iraq—we totally misunderstood what was going on. The sectarian war started to break out below the surface, and that regenerated the insurgency. Our failure to understand that, I think, was our biggest mistake.
On June 30, 2004, Saddam Hussein and eleven senior Iraqi Baathist leaders were handed over to Iraqi authorities as part of the transfer of control from the U. S. to the country’s interim government. In November 2006, an Iraqi court found Saddam guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to death by hanging. He was executed on New Year’s Eve. Video of his Shia captors celebrating around him as he awaited execution sparked fresh controversy in Iraq.
Odierno: His death, the way it was done, was not our best moment. The celebrations on the Shia side just refueled the Sunni–Shia conflict. The saddest thing for me was in 2010, when I was getting ready to leave Iraq for the last time. Violence was way down; we’d just had a very successful national election. I thought maybe we were coming very close to the end of this. But again, we miscalculated on understanding the dynamics. It went back to sectarian ways. ISIS grew out of the fact that the Sunnis had nowhere to turn.
Rauhut: Fifteen years later, what have we learned as a nation? This threat is not going away. The world will always have tyrants. We cannot afford to invade every country that’s got a tyrant, overthrow him, hunt the guy down, and come up with another plan. I’m still hopeful for Iraq, but it’s looking pretty messy.
This past February, two months after its declaration of victory over ISIS, the Iraqi government announced that the U. S. would draw down some of its remaining troops. Approximately 5,200 American troops remain. On August 19, a spokesperson for the U. S. forces in Iraq said, “We’ll keep troops there as long as we think they’re needed.” The next day, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Taylor Galvin, thirty-four, of Spokane, Washington, was killed in a helicopter crash near Sinjar, the 4,555th U. S. military casualty of the Iraq war. Galvin was on his ninth deployment.
From: Esquire US