The US Military’s public relations needs some help. After the bombing of the hospital in Afghanistan, run by Doctor’s Without Boarders, conflicting reports surfaced. Now, we’re seeing images of an ISIS prison raid, in Iraq. The US first reported that Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler acted on his own, when he ran into the prison trying to save Kurdish allies. Now it seems the Wheeler’s troupe of Delta Forces were all involved in the action. We’re having a hard time getting a straight story about our on the ground involvement in military operations in the region.
White House and Pentagon officials are holding to the narrative that Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler died when he alone rushed into a firefight to help Kurdish forces, even as new details surface that Delta Force was directly involved in the rescue mission.
Wheeler, a 20-year Army veteran with 14 tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was part of a Delta Force troop that had been training Kurdish commandos in hostage-rescue techniques.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has maintained that U.S. forces were on the ground in Iraq only to advise and assist Kurdish forces on the Oct. 22 night raid on a prison run by militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
On Tuesday, Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Wheeler was “killed in combat” but he was not supposed to be in a direct-combat role.
“Obviously, he was accompanying those forces, but when he saw they were running into trouble, he very heroically acted in a way that all of the reports suggest and spelled the difference between the success and failure of that important mission,” Carter said.
The White House is standing by this narrative as well.
“We’d defer to DoD for the ‘tick-tock’ of the operation,” a White House official told Military.com on background Tuesday.
A trusted U.S. military source gave Military.com the following of details surrounding Wheeler’s death:
Just before the raid began, Wheeler and his Delta Force assault team had moved to the last covered and concealed position outside the ISIS compound, alongside Kurdish forces.
When the green light was given, the Delta elements and Kurdish forces simultaneously rushed forward and breached the compound at multiple entry points with explosive charges.
The blasts ripped openings into the compound, and gunfire erupted. Wheeler was shot seconds later and died while receiving medical treatment.
Four Kurdish Peshmerga assaulters were wounded and 20 ISIS fighters were killed in the violent gunfight.
Within minutes, assault teams were freeing prisoners as gunfire continued.
“In a hostage rescue, it’s going really quick,” the source said. “Once the breach is made, that’s it. It’s game on; you don’t look back. You are just running to get to the hostages.”