MIDDLE EAST – Military leaders representing member states of a Combined Joint Task Force met to discuss the mission to dismantle and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The multinational conference convened May 19-20 to discuss the way ahead in Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve.
“The conference enabled all the participating nations to share the latest information and exchange their views on the current situation,” said one of the Australian Defense Force attendees. “This common understanding is critical in advancing our mission to defeat Daesh.”
Military leaders from approximately 21 Nations attended the conference to discuss a number of strategies, concerns, and opportunities for the way forward in Iraq. The key leaders discussed the progress made against ISIL since the last coalition conference in mid-February, and also the future plans of action to enable Iraqi forces in regaining lost territory. The unanimous conclusion was that ISIL will eventually be defeated by the coalition, although there is much to be done along the way to this end state.
“Recent tactical-level setbacks will not dissuade the Coalition’s commitment to defeating Daesh across our operations area” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, CJTF-OIR chief of staff. “Positive steps and effects are occurring throughout the battlespace, which, in combination, are encouraging signs of the operational-level progress to date within the Campaign.”
Iraqi Security Forces have commenced offensive operations on multiple fronts in Iraq, with assistance from coalition partners in the form of aviation fires and reconnaissance, training of security force personnel, advisory teams, and new weapons and equipment. The Coalition expects to provide 2,000 additional anti-tank rockets to the Government of Iraq within the next week.
“A key part of the Coalition’s campaign plan is to build the military capacity of Iraqi forces in order to enable their government to conduct effective operations against Daesh and re-establish control over their borders and territory,” said an Australian Defense Force attendee.
Coalition forces have executed over 4,100 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since the beginning of the Campaign.
“The fight against Daesh is a global fight and needs global solutions,” said a senior coalition officer. “This coalition is an example of the global military response to this threat.”
The conference was used as a platform for key military leaders to brief planners from around the world about the state of their Nation’s support to the Coalition and the mission.
“This conference illustrates how a U.S. mission has grown to a combined joint coalition mission,” said a senior officer of the coalition.
Many coalition partner nations participate in the CJTF-OIR Building Partner Capacity (BPC) training mission. The positive progress made in training Iraqi and Kurdish Security Force personnel was discussed during the conference and the attendees agreed that BPC aided in strengthening Iraqi soldiers’ combat proficiency, leadership, and capability, though it was recognized there is always room for improvement.
Several coalition nations also contribute to the Advise and Assist mission, which forms partnerships with select ISF/KSF headquarters units using Coalition cross-functional teams from like headquarters elements. Coalition Advise and Assist teams have played a critical role in developing understanding on the battlefield and integrating the many facets of Coalition support, and have proved to be a catalyst for successful operations on the ground.
Conference attendees acknowledged (again) the complexities of the operating environment, but viewed the strategy going forward in Iraq as achievable. All believe that with Coalition support continuing to enable the Security Forces of Iraq, the defeat of ISIL will occur in time.
“We are working in close coordination with the Government of Iraq and their security forces, to develop supporting plans to their operations to overcome the setback in Ramadi,” said Lt. Gen. James Terry, CJTF-OIR commander. “These efforts remain an integral component of the wider Coalition Campaign to defeat Daesh.”