A small team, led by a female Army veteran, is in Iraq now, helping to rescue injured Kurdish forces who’ve been battling ISIS — just south of Kirkuk. The former Army Nat’l Guard officer has been in the region for about a month now with five other volunteers coming from various specialties.
This so-called “dream team” is led by Kat Argo- an alias-who in 2004 enlisted in the Army National Guard, deployed a few times to Afghanistan, and worked as an intelligence contractor for NATO in Kabul, before leaving the Army in 2012.
The former service members on Kat’s team have backgrounds in “intel, marksmanship, humanitarian assistance, medical treatment and mechanics.”
The group calls itself “Qalubna Ma’kum” which, in Arabic, means “Our hearts are with you.” The name is fitting for a group of Americans traveling back to a war-torn region – without the blessing of the US government – to help in the ongoing fight against the enemy.
“ISIS is the universal threat,” Kat said. “It’s the one enemy that unifies everybody, and it’s the non-controversial enemy to have.”
Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, known as the Peshmerga, continued this fight long after US forces left the region. There have been numerous stories in the US media about Americans who go off on their own volition to assist the Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS. The State Department discourages U.S. citizens from doing so.
Argo told the Army Times: “In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m more effective here than I when was in the military… We have the liberty of movement here, and…we’re not limited to U.S.-only expertise.”
Argo and her team plan to stay up to a year in Iraq, focusing on the “medical and training side.” She says in the next few weeks, they hope to train more Peshmerga fighters in basic medical assistance. The group is asking for donations in order to acquire more medical equipment and a truck they intend to use as an ambulance. They’ll provide evacuations from front lines to the Kurdish base — where they have three rooms set up as a clinic.
“We want to push ourselves to the next level and become a mobile team — we can go in further, speed the injured to the rear faster, and get them all the way to a long term care facility and a sterile environment within the golden hour if necessary,” Kat says.