By Adriane ElliotJanuary 3, 2017
The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command continues to provide robust support in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL as joint forces attempt to liberate Mosul, the nation's largest city held by the terrorist organization.
A December shipment of Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems were delivered to the Iraqi Army Aviation Command and shifted into combat operations within days of its arrival.
USASAC's Tom Hoskins called the new capability critical as tens of thousands of Iraqi troops, Kurdish security forces, Shi'ite militiamen, and some American troops in a support role, face ISIL in the ongoing battle for Mosul.
"The APKWS is a combat-proven system that is accurate, reliable, affordable and easy to use" Hoskins said of the low-cost surgical strike capability. "It allows units to replace standard rockets with a laser-guided rocket capability."
Hoskins is a supervisory logistics management specialist and CENTCOM division chief who has worked the Iraq region for six years. He manages $32 billion in foreign military sales cases throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Syria and Pakistan.
Hoskins said recent feedback from a wing commander within the Iraqi Army Aviation Command puts USASAC's contribution in perspective.
"We now have a system that will help in keeping my pilots alive, from getting shot at and the aircraft damaged or destroyed. … I cannot stress enough what the (APKWS) capability will give our forces and our country," Hoskins said, sharing the senior military official's reaction to the system.
Hoskins described the APKWS delivery as a uniquely joint foreign military sales case between the Army and the Navy. He said while the actual equipment belonged to a Navy FMS, the Army was responsible for the software integration that enables the IQ Bell 407 helicopter to fire the APKWS.
At a price tag of nearly $44 million, the APKWS is well worth it for fighters on the front lines. According to the system manufacturer, BAE Systems, the APKWS serves the U.S. armed forces with a better than 93 percent hit rate.
The Mosul offensive is said to be the biggest ground operation in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003. ISIL's two-year grip on Iraq's second-largest city will make its liberation one of the largest missions Iraqi security forces have undertaken. Its fall in the ancient city would be a death blow to its goal of ruling over millions of people in a Mideast caliphate.
USASAC support to the counter-ISIL fight also comes in the form of training assistance. The Fort Bragg (North Carolina)-based Security Assistance Training Management Organization, a subordinate organization to USASAC, regularly deploys mobile training teams to the beleaguered nation. These small teams are made up of subject matter experts who provide advice and assistance in the areas of NCO professional development, combat operations planning and aviation.