Task force leader in Iraq opens up about fight

Posted at 4:40 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 19:44:58-05

ISIS terrorists draw bloodbaths in bulk. They dug their claws in, in Iraq and struck fear in the hearts of its people.

In an interview only on 10News, Col. David Casey said the terrorists murdered and raped their brothers, sisters and wives.

"[And] a bunch of just horrible atrocities that are actually true," he added.

He is the leader of Task Force Al Asad, and he is a Camp Pendleton Marine.

"What they've done has been absolutely horrific as far as their stamp on the people."

He is working to lift that branding.

"It's hard for us to fully understand and to feel what it's been like," Casey said.

When his team of Marines showed up in July, they were eager to be unleashed on the enemy.

"We arrived to Iraq very, very motivated, wanting to do everything possible we could for the Iraqi people and just take this thing on our shoulders driving forward," he explained.

They are "the first to fight", so they are not exactly known for their patience. 

"The initial difficulty really was to have patience," he said. "Listening to them, and allowing some healing to occur and understanding, where it is you can actually meet with them and move forward at their pace."

His task force has been working with Danish forces to advise and assist Iraqi security forces. At first, he said the Iraqis were reluctant to train, but now they seek out training from the Marines.

Make no mistake; they are still knee-deep in danger, and Casey is grateful for the support of loved ones back home.

"This is a very high-risk, perilous thing that we're doing out here," Casey said.

It seems to be paying off. Just last week, Iraqis reclaimed Ramadi from ISIS.

"We, right now, kind of have Daesh on our heels at this point, which is great," he added

As for what is next, Casey said the Iraqis have intent to push away from Baghdad, toward Mosul and do some work in the Euphrates Corridor. They basically want to push the bad guys out to the border.

Casey said he has seen a tremendous transformation in local forces in the eight months he has been there.

"To go from that attitude of fear and intimidation to a point now where they actually believe they can defeat Daesh," he said.

Casey is proud his Marines helped give them the strength and courage to push forward.

"You see them look at you and slowly transition into you, and that's one of the great pieces I think we brought here," Casey said.

Now, Iraqi security forces are eager to prey on the predator.

"Now, they want to get out there and want to fight," he explained.

They have learned to be the first to fight for their country.