WASHINGTON (April 26, 2016) —
The latest in military technology and the addition of up to 450
more U.S. troops announced yesterday will enhance the U.S.-led
coalition’s efforts to enable ground forces in the campaign to defeat
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorism in Iraq and Syria, the
deputy commander for operations and intelligence for Operation Inherent Resolve told Pentagon reporters Tuesday.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, who’s responsible for planning, coordinating, synchronizing and executing Inherent Resolve combat operations in Iraq and Syria, briefed the media from Baghdad via teleconference on recent campaign momentum against ISIL.
The additional troops being sent
to support the effort will advise and assist Iraqi and Syrian
counter-ISIL ground forces “to continue to fracture and degrade the
enemy,” Gersten said.
Latest Technology Enhances Campaign
The accelerated campaign to defeat ISIL now includes B-52 bombers, additional cyber capabilities and the Army’s High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Gersten said.
With the recent addition of the B-52 Stratofortress to the coalition air campaign’s arsenal, it is important to clear up any “misperceptions”
surrounding the bomber’s capabilities, he said, noting that today’s
B-52 has more capabilities than B-52 bombers used during 1960s and
The new Stratofortress is “a
highly upgraded B-52 [with] an extraordinary platform that strikes with
the same accuracy and precision that every other coalition asset has
struck in the recent past,” he said.
Gersten emphasized that “a lot of discussion” surrounds the
approval process for airstrike operations in a combat zone. “As the
general officer responsible for synchronizing all combat operations in
this theater, I can assure you that we do everything possible to
mitigate the loss of civilian life and minimize collateral damage as we
engage this enemy,” he said.
Cyber Capabilities in Combat
At the very high end of the
combat operations spectrum, the coalition has begun to use its
“exquisite cyber capabilities” in the fight against ISIL” the general
said. Cyber is a standing capability, he added, and is “just another
precision arrow in our arsenal, aimed directly at the heart of the …
HIMARS to Counter ISIL
Two separate Army High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems -- also known as HIMARS
-- will be used in Turkey to support counter-ISIL operations in Syria,
while the second will support Iraq’s counter operations, Gersten said.
As a mobile and “very agile” system, he added, it will be exactly where
the military needs it to be at any given time. It will work in combination with coalition air assets, he said.
The coalition is working closely
with its strong Turkish partners on HIMARS operations, the general said.
“The HIMARS is simply one of many systems the coalition is bringing to
fight this enemy,” he added. “We have fighters, we have remotely piloted
aircraft, we have cyber, and now we have HIMARS.”
The U.S.-led coalition will “bring everything to bear against this enemy, wherever it presents itself,” Gersten said.