Maryland National Guard Sends Members, ‘Warthog’ Planes to Help Fight ISIL

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Members of the Maryland National Guard are among those helping Iraqi-led military forces to take back Mosul from the Islamic State.

The Sun and WJZ report that around 280 Maryland National Guard members have been activated for six months to assist in the offensive. The Islamic State took hold of Mosul during a rapid expansion in 2014 and have made it the centerpiece of their self-proclaimed caliphate. A coalition of Iraqi military members, Kurdish fighters and U.S. troops are taking on ISIL fighters in the city this week, and so far, it’s going well, CNN reports.

The major contributions from our home state forces are manpower and a dozen A-10 warplanes protecting coalition forces in the city.

Maryland National Guard spokesman Col. Charles Kohler confirmed during a phone a call what he told the Sun — that the planes are indeed engaged in the battle for the Iraqi city. However, he declined to mention whether they were involved in any airstrikes. Kohler added that the service members left Maryland over the past couple weeks and will be in an unspecified location in the Middle East for months.

The planes flown by Maryland’s pilots, known also as “warthogs,” are known for their ability to fly at low altitudes, strike targets accurately and fly in limited visibility. When they’re home, the squadron is based at Martin State Airport in Middle River, Kohler said.

Based on numbers – approximately 108,000 coalition forces to around 5,000 ISIL fighters – the odds are in the Iraqis’ favor. But every contribution helps in the fight, and Maryland’s military members are there just in case security forces, Kurdish fighters and U.S. troops need help from above.

Ethan McLeod
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