Al-Asad Air Base Comes Under Rocket Attack, Pentagon Confirms
About 10 rockets attacked Al-Asad Air Base, Iraq, on the morning of March 3, just over a year after Iranian ballistic missiles ravaged base infrastructure and left more than a hundred U.S. troops with traumatic brain injuries, the Pentagon confirmed.
An American contractor suffered “a cardiac episode while sheltering” and died. All U.S. troops at the base are accounted for, and there are no other reports of injuries at this time, the Defense Department wrote in a statement following the incident.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the individual who died,” DOD wrote.
The rockets hit the base just after 7 a.m. local time, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson Col. Wayne Marotto tweeted in the early hours of March 3.
“Preliminary indications are that approximately 10 rockets were fired from points of origin east of the base,” DOD wrote.
Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) systems at the Iraqi base “engaged in defense of” American forces, it added.
The Pentagon said it doesn’t yet have a full idea of the damage caused by the attack, and can’t yet say who perpetuated it.
Iraqi security forces are playing point on the investigation, Marotto wrote, though the Pentagon is on deck “as needed” to back them up.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III’s team has briefed him on the situation, which he is watching closely, it added.
The attack comes approximately a week after U.S. F-15Es carried out airstrikes against Iranian-backed fighters in Syria at President Joe Biden’s behest, following an earlier rocket attack in Erbil, Iraq, that killed one Filipino contractor, wounded an American service member, and four U.S. contractors, Air Force Magazine previously reported.
Congress is pushing back on Biden’s decision to order the strikes without its permission. Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) proposed legislation that if approved would revoke the Authorizations for the Use of Military Force that greenlighted the Gulf War and Iraq War, according to a March 3 release from Kaine’s office.
“Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the Executive Branch, regardless of party, will continue to stretch its war powers,” Kaine said in the release. “Congress has a responsibility to not only vote to authorize new military action, but to repeal old authorizations that are no longer necessary. The 1991 and 2002 AUMFs that underpinned the war against Iraq need to be taken off the books to prevent their future misuse. They serve no operational purpose, keep us on permanent war footing, and undermine the sovereignty of Iraq, a close partner. I call on Congress to promptly take up this measure, and for the Biden administration to support it, to finally show the American people that the Article I and II branches can work together on these issues.”
The Defense Department Office of Inspector General recently called off its own investigation into U.S. Central Command’s ability to safeguard its key assets from missiles and drones in the wake of last year’s attack at Al-Asad due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Air Force Magazine previously reported.