Currently there are more than 3,000 troops in Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State, known as Operation Inherent Resolve. While there are no ground troops fighting the enemy, U.S. advisers are training Iraqi troops, coordinating air strikes and flying close air support missions into Iraq and Syria.
The patch will most likely be affixed to the left shoulder as a type of command patch. For instance, Army units that come into Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve will put it on the appropriate shoulder to denote that their parent command is under the Operation Inherent Resolve umbrella. This was common for headquarters units in the last Iraq War.
While every branch of the military is fighting in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security), only the Army will likely sport the new patch. This is because of the large amount of velcro they have on various parts of their uniform and the fact that the Army traditionally wears unit patches on both shoulders.
According to USA Today, the three stars on the patch are meant to represent air, land and sea operations while the scimitars harken back to the iconic crossed blades installed by Saddam Hussein outside Baghdad.
Operation Inherent Resolve started in August 2014 shortly after the Islamic State overran the Iraqi city of Mosul. One month later, U.S. planes began striking targets in Syria. The Islamic State still controls large swaths of territory in both countries despite daily airstrikes.