On Halloween, 2016, aircraft from seven countries gathered in the skies over Iraq’s western desert to conduct a coordinated strike. Intelligence reporting indicated that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was using a remote complex of bunkers that was a former Iraqi army depot to manufacture and store weapons. The sortie included British Tornados and four French Rafales, which launched air-to-surface Storm Shadow cruise missiles on 14 bunkers. The other aircraft released their bombs over the remaining bunkers and buildings.
The strike culminated several months’ work by a small Marine task force deployed to Al Asad Airbase and supported elements of the Iraqi army, ready to begin their advance to the Syrian border after regaining the Euphrates River Valley from Fallujah to Hadithah. At the time, I was the task force’s targeting officer. We gathered, assessed, and compiled the intelligence supporting the target