Mosul victory marks win for Pentagon training plan

Updated 10 July 2017
0

Mosul victory marks win for Pentagon training plan

WASHINGTON: The Iraqi military’s hard-fought victory over Daesh in Mosul marks a defining moment not just for them. It is also a key win for the US doctrine behind it.
Instead of putting large numbers of American boots on the ground, the US-led strategy in Iraq and Syria has been a non-stop air campaign combined with continual training and advising for proxy local forces.
Pentagon officials say the outcome is clear — three years after collapsing as flag-waving terrorists swept across their country, Iraq’s security forces have become a battle-hardened army that prevailed in a brutal urban fight.
“Training works,” said one senior US military officer. It “has enabled the Iraqis to take back their country.”
It is a far cry from when then-Pentagon Chief Ashton Carter said in May 2015 that the Iraqi military “showed no will to fight.”
When Daesh attacked in 2014, the Iraqi security forces had grown weak under then-Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.
Troops turned and ran, often without a fight, dumping precious US-provided weaponry and vehicles as they fled.
“It was stunning,” the military official said.
“Even ISIS (Daesh) had to have been surprised at how rapidly the Iraqi army utterly just fell apart.”
The skills they had learned under previous US tutelage from 2008-2011 centered on fighting an insurgency — not stopping a fast-moving militant army.
“We needed an army that could fight conventionally,” the official said.
The decision to use a few hundred US troops and other Western military experts to train local fighters stems partly from the Iraq War, which saw more than 4,400 US troops die.
A US public wary of additional deployments did not want Barack Obama recommitting more combat troops.
Obama ordered airstrikes and pursued a strategy — known in the Pentagon as “by, with and through” — to train local forces.
In the summer of 2015, coalition advisers started instructing Iraqis on conventional warfare — fighting in small units, setting up defenses, how to breech minefields and so on.
By the end of that year, the Iraqis began striking back at Daesh, including with the recapture of Ramadi.
As of this month, the coalition had trained about 106,000 Iraqi security forces, including 40,000 Iraqi troops, 15,000 police, 6,000 border guards, 21,000 Kurdish peshmerga, 14,000 from the elite Counter Terrorism Service and another 9,500 “tribal mobilization forces.”
The toll has been brutal, with thousands of Iraqi forces killed.
But since anti-Daesh operations began in Iraq and Syria in 2014, only 11 US troops have been killed.
The US military is trying a similar strategy with Afghan security forces in their fight against a resurgent Taliban.


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
0

Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.