QAYYARAH WEST AIRFIELD, Iraq –
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and Jared Kushner, the senior advisor to President Donald J. Trump, today received briefings from American and Iraqi service members during a visit to a base 10 miles from the front line in Mosul.
Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting Iraq to assess progress in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He invited Kushner and the president’s Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert along to meet U.S. service members and see the effort, close up.
Visiting Tactical Assembly Area
The men visited Hammam al-Alil, a tactical assembly area, just over 10 miles from Mosul. There are roughly 100 American service members of the 1st Battalion, 73rd Cavalry at the Iraqi base who provide assistance to Iraqi security forces in their battle in West Mosul. There is also a platoon-sized element of the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery at the base that provides fires support inside Mosul.
At the forward base, Dunford and Kushner received briefings from Army Col. Pat Work the commander of the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, who has responsibility for the advise and assist mission in the region.
The men moved to the Iraqi side of the base and Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, introduced them to senior Iraqi leaders.
The received a firsthand appraisal of Iraqi operations inside Mosul. They spoke about the tactics they are using and the casualties they are taking. They also spoke about how they expect to rebuild Mosul -- Iraq’s second-largest city -- after the destruction ISIS has caused.
Praising U.S.-Iraqi Partnership
“It’s been an absolute honor to be here to see the progress that everyone’s made together,” Kushner said at the end of the meeting. “Speaking with the American troops and then briefly speaking with the Iraqi troops, the partnership that’s been formed here truly is something that is very impressive to me, and something that I know I hope endures for many generations.
Kushner added, “I hope that the victory that you have in Mosul in the near future will not just be a victory for American and Iraqi troops, but it will be a victory for the world.”
Dunford put the visit in perspective. He noted that the first time he met many of the Iraqi officers it was October 2015, noting it was “a very dark time.”
“What’s most impressive to me, now, in addition to the performance of your men on the battlefield, is the hope … about Iraq and the future,” the chairman said.
Dunford expressed his condolences for the Iraqi security forces’ casualties in the counter-ISIS campaign.
“We’re committed to make sure these sacrifices matter,” the chairman said. He also said the U.S. commitment would endure.
Dunford said he is pleased with the very close partnership between Iraqi forces and their U.S. advisers.
“I believe Mosul will go down in the history books as one of the greatest battles in history,” he said. “I think part of the story will be the partnership you have had with our forces. The most important part of the story will be about your leadership, your courage and your performance. And just to tell you on behalf of the team that is here right now, we are very proud to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you and fighting with you.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)