An Enduring Security Partnership
Operation Inherent Resolve Transitions Into An Advise, Assist, And Enable Mission In Iraq And Syria
IRAQI ARMY STAFF GEN. Abdul Ameer Al-Shammari, THEN-DEPUTY COMMANDER, JOINT OPERATIONS COMMAND-IRAQ, AND U.S. ARMY MAJ. GEN. JOHN BRENNAN, then-COMMANDER, COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE-OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE
In December 2021 Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) transitioned to a non-combat role of advising, assisting and enabling partnered forces in Iraq and Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh. We would like to elaborate further on the respective roles Iraqi forces and Coalition forces play in our continuing counter-Daesh mission.
The new campaign phase of Operation Inherent Resolve focuses on advising, assisting and enabling partnered forces at the operational level and is a natural and planned progression of the operation. The emphasis at this stage is partner force development and advancing capability and capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Kurdish Security Forces (KSF), and vetted partners in Syria to complement their competency and will.
Iraqi Security Forces have improved their capabilities to the point where they can defend and hold territories liberated from Daesh terrorists in 2017. They are not the same force that faced Daesh in 2014. The ISF is better trained, better led, and better equipped, and they are planning and conducting increasingly complex counterterrorism operations to help keep Iraqi citizens safe.
The ISF have shown great dedication and commitment to defeating Daesh while providing security for local and national governance, and CJTF-OIR continues to provide guidance and high-level technical assistance. Illustrative of Iraq’s greater focus on security is the construction of fortified trenches and earthen berms along major sections of the 607-kilometer international border with Syria. With the addition of concrete watchtowers and camera surveillance, the project — completed mostly by ISF engineers — has reduced border incursions that could have resulted in violence inside Iraq. Additionally, the deployment of the Iraqi Border Guard Command to the Syrian border adds a crucial layer of extra defense.
Militarily, Daesh is defeated and incapable of holding territory, but their ideology and tactics still pose a threat. The terrorists attempt to turn their weaknesses into advantages by operating in small, highly mobile units that target vulnerable Iraqis. In their new advise, assist and enable role, the Global Coalition continues to contribute to preventing the resurgence of Daesh.
In their advisory role, Global Coalition forces continue to support Iraqi commanders at the operational level in planning and conducting operations against Daesh. The Coalition operates in close partnership alongside and at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to maintain the enduring defeat of Daesh and enable the establishment of an enduring security cooperation framework. This relationship is built upon the trust and confidence developed from years of successful combined operations. One of the most visible examples of the advise mission is in operations conducted by the Joint Operations Command-Iraq in Baghdad. Advisors from different Coalition countries in the Military Advisory Group (MAG) work side by side with ISF personnel to help develop their capabilities and operational reach. Similar efforts take place in the Kurdistan Region between the MAG and KSF. The Coalition has adopted the approach of helping the Iraqis develop their own strike cell, for example, so they can do their own kinetic strikes with their own aircraft, enabled by their own intelligence collection and target development. The Coalition continues to support, but it is Iraqi forces in the lead, and they continue to get better over time.
The assist role refers to the physical transfer of military resources to partner forces. The equipment, ammunition, weapons and vehicles the Coalition assists partners with help bring stability to conflict-affected areas and helps the ISF continue to build their capabilities. So far, this assistance has included armored vehicles, military vehicles, ambulances, fuel trucks, radio equipment and air traffic control systems as well as a variety of firearms and ammunition — all to assist Iraq in ensuring Daesh’s enduring defeat.
The Coalition’s enabling function focuses on providing Iraqis with capabilities they might currently lack. The Coalition provides these capabilities at the explicit request of the Iraqi government. One common form of enabling the Coalition provides is intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sorties from Coalition platforms to help Iraqi forces plan and execute their operations and provide force protection. The Iraqi Air Force and Army Aviation have the capabilities and means to eradicate important Daesh targets. Coalition ISR enables them by providing accurate intelligence to Iraqi pilots to pinpoint terrorist sites and thwart Daesh attempts at subversion. Coalition intelligence gathering and sharing, which includes monitoring Daesh’s communications abroad, helps expose terrorist hideouts, movements and supply lines in Iraq and Syria. This intelligence coordination makes it easier for Iraqi ground and air units to track and prevent enemy attempts to cross the border or other illegal activity.
The Coalition answered the call for help in 2014 when Daesh ravaged the region, controlling hundreds of thousands of square miles of territory and victimizing 8 million innocent civilians with their brutality. At the invitation of Iraq, the Coalition degraded, dismantled and ultimately destroyed Daesh’s territorial “caliphate” in 2017. Even though they are militarily defeated, they remain an existential threat to the region, and they are clearly attempting to refill their ranks. At the invitation of the Republic of Iraq, the Coalition will continue to advise, assist, and enable partner forces to ensure Daesh remains defeated and is unable to regenerate within Iraq and Syria.
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