Tuesday morning Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a Navy SEAL operating as an advisor to Peshmerga forces was killed on the front lines against ISIS. Carter specifically said the SEAL was killed in combat after he was shot when ISIS soldiers broke through an Iraqi forces checkpoint and made their way to Peshmerga territory just outside of Mosul.
Despite the classification by Carter that the casualty was in fact a combat death, the White House is still refusing classify the role of U.S. troops in Iraq as combat. Since 2014, three U.S. service members have been killed in the war against ISIS.
“What I think is true is that Iraq and Syria are dangerous places and our men and women in uniform, who are engaged in a mission to offer training, advice and assistance to Iraqi forces that are fighting for their own country, are doing dangerous work. They are taking grave risks to protect our country. We owe them a deep debt of gratitude. Today’s incident is a vivid reminder of the risks our service members are taking and some of them, three of them now, have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday. “But the President has been clear, time and time again, exactly what their mission is. That mission is to support Iraqi forces on the ground who are taking the fight to ISIL on the front lines.”
The White House also offered condolences to family.