Politico reported, “Iraqi translators eligible for waivers under travel ban.” The article’s first paragraph read, “Iraqi translators and interpreters who’ve worked with U.S. armed forces will be considered for waivers to bypass President Donald Trump’s travel ban, a top official from the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.” But the exceptions won’t end there because it’s not just interpreters who have helped.

This is one group I respect in the Middle East: The Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF). I worked with and respected these warriors. The enemy does too. The ISOF is the premier fighting force in the Middle East and is a by-product of a combined effort between my former unit, 5th Special Forces Group, and 3rd Special Forces Group, primarily.

It was great not just to work and train them, but their company was a pleasure. They were legitimate friends and displayed solidarity rarely found in that region of the world. They try to do what’s right. They’re non-sectarian and believe in service. They’re the good guys, to be sure, and there’s no doubt about it.

Since its formation, the ISOF (Iraqi Special Forces) and Iraqi Counterterrorism Forces (ICTF) have seen more combat than most vets you’ve bumped into wearing “Operation Iraqi Freedom” black hats. Most of them of have certainly far more than I, and I wager more than most of the military as a whole. These men are warriors, and they’re on our side.

Everyone has war stories these days – but they lived in it. They’ve seen more combat than most of us have seen in our sleep, cleared more rooms than many have in Call of Duty and training.

Only among my teammates and SOF operators in combat have I felt the same level of comradery. The phrase “uniquely American” pops up in political speech now and then. These fellas are uniquely American. Not just in the Middle East, either, but throughout the world.

There are ISOF and ICTF operators who have been on more raids and endured more fire fights than most could imagine, waiting to come home with a special immigrant visa. Which is why I’m glad we’ve dispelled the notion that these warriors can’t visit or come to America. I’m happy the measure to continue the Special Immigrant Visa was announced, today. It doesn’t directly speak to the warriors I just mentioned. I did want to mention them nonetheless, because their work is critical and they’ve done more than most in the war on terror. 

Featured image Sabah Arar.

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