SOUTHWEST ASIA, April 21, 2015 - Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve is the coalition response to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the terrorist group often referred to as Daesh.
Formed in October to counter Daesh's takeover of territory in Iraq and Syria last summer, CJTF-OIR brings together the more than 60 countries pledging support in the fight against the group.
"The coalition exists to counter Daesh in Iraq (and) Syria," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, CJTF-OIR chief of staff. "Those operations (conducted) in Syria enable Iraqi Security Forces, as they force Daesh to reallocate their resources to the Syrian theater. All of our coalition contributions are directed at achieving success in our mission, which is to degrade and ultimately defeat Daesh."
The coalition's most visible action taken against Daesh has been launching more than 3,200 airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria since operations began in August.
"Our deliberate targeting process involves many levels of review," said Weidley. "We look at those targets for hours and hours to understand the pattern of life, and all airstrikes in Iraq are approved by the ministry of defense."
The coalition's other main effort is training Iraqi forces through a program called building partner capacity, or BPC. The coalition has nearly 1,000 military trainers and advisers in Iraq at five separate BPC sites where they train Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Security Forces through four- to six-week periods of instruction to prepare them for operations against Daesh.
BPC site trainers come from a host of countries. Those who have announced their participation in the program include Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"We developed the BPC construct to allow coalition trainers to go into Iraq at agreed upon sites and get (forces) capable of taking on (Daesh)," said Weidley.
Weidley said he sees the defeat of Daesh resting largely on the coalition's ability to build the military capacity of Iraqi forces.
"(BPC) allows us to latch on to an equivalent entity and provide that guidance, assistance and perspective," he said. "We continue to push more units through our BPC sites. Combine that with the enablers we bring - fires, intelligence, partnership at the headquarters level - (and that) helps generate momentum. ISF has continued to counter (Daesh's) episodic attacks."
He added that the BPC mission has continued to build Iraq's military capabilities, citing the development of small unit leaders and the ability to conduct counter IED and obstacle clearing and breaching.
The strategy is echoed by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter who told troops during a recent visit to the region that a lasting defeat against Daesh requires the military capacity of local forces "because they must take the lead and take responsibility."