CENTCOM AREA OF OPERATIONS, May 26, 2015 - Though there have been recent tactical-level setbacks in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the coalition's commitment to defeating the terrorist group will not be dissuaded, said the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve chief of staff.
U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley said, "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."
Military leaders from about 21 nations met May 19-20 to discuss strategies, concerns and opportunities against ISIL.
Using the conference as a platform for leaders to discuss their countries' support to the coalition, topics included the progress made against ISIL since the previous meeting of coalition leaders in February and future plans to enable Iraqi forces in regaining lost territory, CJTF-OIR said in a statement. The unanimous conclusion of the group was that ISIL will eventually be defeated by the coalition, although there is much to be done along the way, the CJTF added.
"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, using another term for ISIL.
The coalition is supporting Iraqi forces through its build partner capacity training mission and its advise and assist mission. Several countries are contributing to the BPC mission which trains Iraqi and Kurdish Security Forces personnel, strengthening their combat proficiency and leadership skills. About 8,900 forces have completed training, with about another 4,000 currently in training. Under the advise and assist mission, cross-functional teams from coalition countries form partnerships with select Iraq and Kurdish Security Forces headquarters units. These teams play 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, according to CJTF-OIR.
"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."
In addition to the build partner capacity and advise and assist missions, the wider coalition campaign includes providing support on the battlefield as well providing weapons and equipment.
CJTF-OIR said 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 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. Iraqi forces have received about 7 million pounds of materiel from nearly 20 donor countries, with much of the materiel flown to Iraq on board about 90 flights of coalition aircraft.
Coalition forces have executed more than 4,100 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since the beginning of the campaign. Those conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Those conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"The fight against Daesh is a global fight and needs global solutions," said a senior coalition officer attending the conference. "This coalition is an example of the global military response to this threat."
(Combined Joint Task Force - Inherent Resolve Public Affairs contributed to this report.)