The Pentagon Friday announced the death of Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, a soldier who had been serving in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. He died of wounds received during a hostage rescue mission. But in keeping with the Obama administration's insistence that the president ended combat operations in Iraq, the military issued a separate statement making clear that Wheeler's death did not indicate the presence of U.S. "boots on the ground" in that country.
The text of the casualty report is as follows:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, 39, of Roland, Oklahoma, died Oct. 22, in Kirkuk Province, Iraq, from wounds received by enemy small-arms fire during an operation.
He was assigned Headquarters U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Here is the text of the additional announcement [emphasis added]:
SOUTHWEST ASIA- "Yesterday, the United States of America lost one of her finest warriors doing what American troops do best -- protecting those who cannot protect themselves. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of this brave Soldier," said Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve. "We are proud of the combined forces who conducted the mission to rescue these Iraqi hostages. Their courage, skill, and sacrifice narrowly prevented yet another brutal massacre by Daesh murderers. It is important to realize that U.S. military support to this Iraqi rescue operation is part of our overarching counter-terrorism efforts throughout the region and does not represent a change in our policy. U.S. forces are not in Iraq on a combat mission and do not have boots on the ground."