The Obama administration will authorize further troop deployments to Iraq to help support the retaking of the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State should they be required, according to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
“We will defeat ISIL, I don’t have any doubt about that. But as and when [General MacFarland] determines that there are additional capabilities that he needs, again in the enabler role, we will provide them,” Carter told reporters Tuesday during a press conference in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. “I will ask the president for them and I have every expectation he will give them.”
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, joined Carter in the press briefing to help outline the strategy the coalition intends to use to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the de fact ISIS capital in Iraq.
“The whole idea is to envelop Mosul from the north and the south, and then collapse ISIL’s control over it, as has been done in other cities — Hit, Rutbah, Fallujah, Ramadi, and so forth,” said Carter.
According to McFarland, U.S. troops will act in a support role for the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) during the operation. In particular, U.S. personnel will help expand a key base at Qayyarah West airfield in order to create a staging area for the invasion of the city.
Carter’s claim that further troops may be committed to the fight comes just one day after he announced that the administration approved increasing the U.S. troop level cap in Iraq by 560. The increase would allow the Pentagon to deploy as many as 4,647 U.S. forces on the ground, though this number does not include military personnel who are in Iraq on temporary assignment.
MacFarland noted the importance of keeping ISIS on the defensive in order to completely crush the terrorist group.
“The best defense is a good offense,” said the general. “And by continuing to put pressure on the enemy in places like Raqqah, Mosul [and] Manbij, it does prevent the enemy from really hatching a lot of these types of plots. But we are starting to put pressure on the enemy’s … terror networks, threat networks that are around the capital, and we will continue to ramp that up over time.”
As ISIS has lost territory in Iraq and Syria, it has reverted to using terrorist tactics against foreign targets both in the West and in the Iraq capital of Baghdad. Further attacks could be impending as the Mosul operation continues.
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