The tactic first appeared during the battle of Mosul and it now threatens troops anywhere in the world.
BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK MARCH 9, 2020
US. forces guarding oil and gas fields in eastern Syria have recently come under attack from small drones dropping improvised mortar bomb-like munitions. It’s not clear what group was responsible for these incidents, which thankfully have not caused any casualties so far, but they are the latest examples of this steadily growing threat. The U.S. military, as a whole, has been developing and fielding an increasingly wide array of counter-drone systems in response.
NPR was first to report on what it described as “a multiday attack on two of the oil fields” that U.S. forces are presently guarding in Syria on Mar. 6, 2020. This is reportedly the first attack on American troops in these particular areas since the U.S. military first announced their new mission guarding oil and natural gas-related sites in the country in October 2019.
NPR‘s reporter in Syria, Tom Bowman, did not specify the exact locations of the attacks, or how many of them there were in total. He did say that members of the “West Virginia National Guard” had been on the scene of one of the incidents.
The West Virginia Army National Guard has troops assigned to the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team presently deployed to Syria. In October 2019, the 30th briefly deployed a contingent of Bradley Fighting Vehicles, as well as supporting forces, to two forward operating bases, one at the Conoco Gas Plant and another known as Green Village, both of which are situated in the Syrian province of Deir Ez Zor. Elements of the brigade remained in the country after the Bradleys returned to Kuwait between November and December 2019, a shift in forces that The War Zone was first to report on.
Drones of an unspecified type, but “carrying a mortar [bomb],” attacked the West Virginian guardsmen on Mar. 4. More unmanned aerial vehicles conducted similars attacks two days later, both in the morning and the evening, according to Bowman.
“We immediately sprung, got in the vehicle. I got a REDCON-1 [Readiness Condition 1] status,” Sergeant First Class Mitch Morgan of the West Virginia Army National Guard told NPR, referring to a full alert status ordering personnel to be ready to move and fight. “We were out in 2 minutes. We came out this way. As we were going out, they was [sic] raining mortars [bombs] in on top of us.”