Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Cooper Dayton, 42, is the first US casualty in combat against the Islamic State in Syria. Cooper was killed on November 24, Thanksgiving, by an IED in Ayn Issa, Syria.
On Friday evening the Department of Defense released Dayton’s identity as the sailor who was killed in action while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve in northern Syria.
Learn more about the hero here:
1. He Entered the Navy in 1993
According to the Wall Street Journal, Dayton entered the Navy in 1993 at the age of 19 and received 19 awards, including, “the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, seven Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy ‘E’ Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, and others.”
He was currently based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia and was serving with Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton, 42, of Woodbridge, Virginia, died Nov. 24 in northern Syria, of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast.
He was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two, which is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
We have contacted them asking for more information about Dayton.
Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve, expressed his sympathies to Dayton’s family in a statement which reads: “The entire counter-ISIL coalition sends our condolences to this hero’s family, friends, and teammates.”
2. He Had Been Assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU)
Dayton had been assigned to EODMU while in Syria. According to Commander, Navy Installations Command, EODMU “provides an operational explosive ordnance disposal capability to locate, identify, render safe, recover, field evaluate and dispose of all explosive ordnance.”
Dayton was killed by an IED, or an improvised explosive device. IEDs are a favorite weapon of ISIS and have been implemented in their attacks in the Middle East and abroad.
IEDs can be made from a variety of military and non-military materials, and they can be deployed and activated in various ways, ranging from roadside bombs and landmines to car bombs. Although they have been used for decades, the term came into routine use by the U.S. military between 2002 and 2003 in the Iraq war. The first IED casualty in that conflict came on March 29, 2003 when four soldiers died as a result of a car bomb.
One investigator for Conflict Armament Research (CAR), which “tracks conventional weapons and ammunition in contemporary armed conflicts,” told Foreign Affairs in an interview that ISIS’ manufacturing of IEDs had reached a “quasi-industrial scale.”
3. Ayn Issa Is Near ISIS’ ‘Capital’
The DoD stated that Dayton had been killed in Ayn Issa, northern Syria. Ayn Issa is about 35-miles north of Raqqa, the terrorist “capital” of the Islamic State.
ISIS took complete control of Raqqa in January 2014. It then converted the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs into its headquarters. Soon after, outlying regions of Raqqa were “annexed” into “Wilayat Raqqa,” or “State of Raqqa,” one of the many states of the so-called Islamic State.
Ayn Issa is “part” of Wilayat Raqqa. Earlier this month, Al-Jazeera reported that US-backed Syrian rebels have announced their intention to retake Raqqa.
4. ISIS Leader Is Probably Not in ‘Capital’
If Raqqa does fall to US-backed Syrian rebels, they are unlikely to find Islamic State “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In two recent reports, Baghdadi had fled two Iraqi cities. In early November, the Iraqi National Army confirmed that al-Baghdadi had not only escaped Mosul, but that he had also taken 150 families hostage with him to protect him from airstrikes.
After fleeing Mosul, al-Baghdadi made his way west to Tal Afar, Iraq. However, a recent report by the Popular Mobilization Forces group League of the Righteous has claimed that al-Baghdadi has since fled there, too.
According to Reuters, al-Baghdadi has become increasingly paranoid about his survival. They write that the “caliph” rarely emerges from underground bunkers and that he sleeps in a suicide vest.
It is unlikely that al-Baghdadi would go to Raqqa, Syria.
5. There Are Approximately 300 US Troops in Syria
In September, President Obama authorized up to 300 Special Operations Forces to be deployed to Syria.
The authorization came along with the Turkey invading Syria in late August. According to the Huffington Post, Vice President Joe Biden endorsed the invasion by Turkey, called “Operation Euphrates Shield.”
It is unclear if Dayton was part of this deployment.