Navy explosives technician is 1st US death in battle for Mosul
By ALEX HORTON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 21, 2016
SAN ANTONIO – The Pentagon on Friday identified the first U.S. death in the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group as a 34-year-old Navy explosives technician.
Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan of Anaheim, Calif., was killed Thursday by an improvised explosive device while serving in an advisory role with Iraqi coalition troops, Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, a Navy spokeswoman, said Friday in a news release.
Finan, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, was operating with Iraqi counterterrorism forces northeast of Mosul when the vehicle that he was in hit an IED, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday. Finan was medevaced to Irbil but he died there as a result of his injuries.
As many as 200 U.S. special operators have been embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish units moving to the front lines of the battle to retake the city from an estimated 3,000-5,000 Islamic State fighters, according to the Pentagon.
But the advance toward entrenched Islamic State positions around Mosul has slowed due to the use of suicide car bombs and mortar fire, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. Ringed defenses of roadside bombs and houses wired for detonation are hallmarks of the Islamic State group, putting a premium on explosives experts.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon said the embedded U.S. forces in northern Iraq were advancing to the last secure areas on the outskirts of Mosul as Iraqi and Kurdish forces wage a long-awaited offensive that could continue for weeks or months.
Iraq has about 18,000 troops moving on the city and the Kurdish peshmerga forces number about 10,000, according to Pentagon estimates.
Finan enlisted in 2003 and was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 based in Coronado, Calif., Cragg said. Finan's service record includes the Navy Marine Corps Commendation with V for valor, along with campaign ribbons for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.