Three days before ISIS militants killed Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin, the U.S. military notified his family—and the families of roughly 200 Marines—that their loved ones had moved off the USS Kearsarge, deployed to the Persian Gulf, to somewhere in northern Iraq. The letter didn’t say exactly where he had been deployed two weeks earlier, or why.
But while his family and the American public were largely being kept in the dark, members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State were acquiring detailed intelligence on the movements of Cardin, the second U.S. service member killed in Iraq, and his fellow Marines.
As it turned out, those Marines were on no ordinary deployment. Cardin and his fellow Marines were deployed near the front lines of what is expected be the biggest battle of the war, two officials told The Daily Beast, tasked to launch a mission that signaled the U.S. was again furtively expanding its mission in Iraq.
Regardless, U.S. military commanders in Iraq decided it was not safe to tell the American public.