Posts Tagged ‘readiness of Iraqi forces’

U.S. Rethinks Plan to Retake Mosul

February 28, 2015

The U.S. military is considering a months-long campaign of airstrikes to squeeze Islamic State fighters in the Iraqi city

In this Feb. 10 photo released by the U.S. Army, a Danish trainer helps Iraqi army trainees as part of multinational efforts in helping combat Islamic State militants in Iraq.  
In this Feb. 10 photo released by the U.S. Army, a Danish trainer helps Iraqi army trainees as part of multinational efforts in helping combat Islamic State militants in Iraq. Photo: U.S. Army/Associated Press
.
By Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes
The Wall Street Journal
.

WASHINGTON—The U.S. military is considering a months-long campaign of airstrikes to squeeze Islamic State fighters in Mosul before inserting Iraqi ground forces to retake the city, officials said Friday.

The on-the-ground fight to retake Mosul isn’t likely to start until the fall at the earliest, after an intensified air campaign to target Islamic State leaders and cut off supply lines in and around the city, the officials said.

The emerging plan is at odds with a briefing by a U.S. military’s Central Command official in February in which he said the U.S. and Iraq were looking at starting a campaign to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, by April or May.

Afterward, Iraqi and American officials cast doubt on the likely readiness of Iraqi forces.

U.S. military officials now say they believe that Iraqi’s best military units are many months away from being in a position to successfully conduct such an operation. Those forces haven’t yet begun their training at the bases set up by American military officers in Iraq.

“When we feel that the Iraqi forces are ready to go and win decisively, we will go and advise the Iraqis to begin the operation,” a military official said.

Under the evolving plan, the U.S. would use its air power in the coming months to further isolate Mosul and weaken the hold of Islamic State fighters on the city. Under this approach, U.S. airstrikes would be focused on picking off Islamic State leaders to undermine their ability to command and control their forces.

Kurdish forces have already cut off one of the main approaches into Mosul from Syria.

Another approach could be cut off from Anbar province.

Iraqi forces could focus first on clearing Islamic State militants out of pockets of Anbar before turning to Mosul, which is expected to more difficult.

Under this scenario, ground operations in Mosul would take place in the fall, if not later.

The U.S. believes that a force of around 20,000 fighters will be needed to liberate and hold Mosul, officials said.

Central Command officials had originally looked at April or May to start the ground operation in Mosul, before temperatures rise in the summer. But the units which U.S. officials hoped to take the lead in the Mosul offensive won’t have time to complete their training.

At a briefing on Friday, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, wouldn’t rule out an April operation in Mosul, saying the military wouldn’t set a timeline. He noted that any strike to liberate Mosul would be a tough fight.

“We’re not going to be able to go, nor do we want to go any faster than the Iraqis are ready to go,” Adm. Kirby said.

Write to Julian E. Barnes at julian.barnes@wsj.com and Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-rethinks-plan-to-retake-mosul-1425086143

********************************

Kirby: Iraqi Leaders, Troops Will be Force Against ISIL

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2015 – Any operation in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “is going to be and must be” an Iraqi-led and Iraqi-manned operation, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters today.

Any operation against ISIL will be dependent on the Iraqi military being able to perform the mission, the admiral said during a Pentagon press briefing.

Kirby was speaking about reports that Iraqi forces would take back the city of Mosul from ISIL in April.

No Certain Date for Mosul Offensive

“I just can’t put a date certain on there and say it is going to happen at a certain time, nor am I prepared to rule something out and tell you definitively, ‘Well, April is out,'” he said.

Mosul is the second-largest city in Iraq and ISIL occupied it when they swept out of Syria last year. U.S. Central Command commander Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III has said it will be a tough fight to retake the city.

“We’re only going to be able to do it if and when the Iraqis are ready to do it, and that we can ensure success, that we can prevail,” Kirby said.

U.S. forces are working to train, advise and assist Iraqi forces, including the Kurdish peshmerga.

“They are in the fight right now, retaking terrain that ISIL has either recently tried to take, or is trying to defend,” Kirby said. “So supply lines up in the north, the peshmerga are cutting off supply lines of ISIL into Syria.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is very interested in the progress of the train, advise and assist mission, said Kirby, noting Carter is concerned about how well the Iraqis are doing and how many have been trained.

“We’ve graduated some 2,500 or so [Iraqis] already from this [training],” the admiral said.

And, Carter is interested in how the Iraqis are doing on the battlefield, Kirby said.

“With respect to Mosul, [Carter] doesn’t want to go any faster than the Iraqis are ready and no faster than what we can assure ourselves of success,” Kirby said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)

 

Advertisements