A US Marine killed March 19 by an ISIS rocket attack was part of a new US deployment to the first independent operating base in Iraq as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the Pentagon announced. USMC SSgt. Louis Cardin, who was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was killed when ISIS launched two Katyusha rockets at his firebase near Makhmur, in northern Iraq. The 26th MEU last week deployed into Iraq to set up a firebase to defend US advisers and Iraqi troops training in Makhmur, where they are preparing for the fight to retake Mosul. Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said Monday the new base, which is about nine to 12 miles from the forward line of troops, is the first independent US operating location in Iraq, but is located adjacent to the Iraqi base. The location, which was set up about two weeks before the rocket attack, was attacked again on Monday by a “squad-sized” group of ISIS fighters with small arms fire. Two of those fighters were killed, and the rest ran away, Warren said. The Marine firebase was set up with the sole purpose of defending US and Iraqi troops, but its mission could change as the coalition moves to retake Mosul, he added. (Watch the briefing.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.