US Marines Expand Combat Role, Participating in Iraq Offensive

Pentagon Still Trying to Present Firebase as 'Non-Combat'

Iraq’s new military offensive southeast of Mosul seized several villages, and while Iraqi officials emphasized the involvement of US airstrikes in the attack, the US also participated on the ground, according to officials.

US Marines from Firebase Bell fired illumination rounds early in the battle to help see ISIS forces during the pre-dawn attacks, and also provided supporting fire for Iraqi troops advancing into the villages.

Indications are there wasn’t much combat in this offensive, with ISIS not having much in place to defend the relatively unimportant villages, but the involvement does reflect that Firebase Bell is being used as a staging area for US involvement in ground combat.

Despite this, Pentagon officials are still trying to argue semantics, insisting we shouldn’t consider Firebase Bell a “combat outpost” as much, despite its role in combat, because it’s located a bit behind the front lines near Mosul.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that more Marines are being deployed to Iraq soon, and that they will be participating in direct combat. It is unclear, then, why officials are so desperate to portray today’s involvement in combat as something less.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of