‘Recommendations Forthcoming’ on US Troop Presence in N. Iraq

The United States potentially will make recommendations to position U.S. troops with Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq to support the next phase of isolating the key city of Mosul, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who met here with his French counterpart for talks focusing on the multinational effort against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, told reporters traveling with him that the U.S. troops would be placed where they can best support the Iraqi forces in the fight.

“We’re about winning. … We want to have the Iraqis win,” he said.

The details are still being worked out, noted Dunford, who said he will make the recommendations to President Barack Obama based on what U.S. commanders and Iraqi security forces identify as the type of support the United States can provide in a plan to retake Mosul.

“It is fair to say we will have positions – we already do [in Erbil] – up in the north that will facilitate supporting Iraqi security forces as they isolate Mosul,” Dunford said.

Mosul is the largest city captured by the ISIL terrorists.

Consultations on Best Way Forward

Discussions with Iraqi officials will determine what support they need, whether in an advise-and-assist role at the operations center level, the division level, or the brigade level, Dunford said.

“I’m prepared to recommend a level of accompaniment that will allow us to be successful,” he said. “But I want to wait for the Iraqis to tell us, based on the lessons learned in Ramadi, what they believe is right for them.”

Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, is working with the Iraqi security forces to develop the concept of operations, Dunford said.

The Iraqis will identify what support they need and what Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga forces need, looking at capability gaps and where the United States can be most effective in integrating its effort, he said.

Because the details are still being worked out, Dunford said, he did not have specifics on what capabilities will be needed or how many U.S. troops would be required.

But, he said, “We’re going to set ourselves up for success.”

The U.S. forces, he said, would be in addition to U.S. troops already in an advise-and-assist mission at Taqaddum Air Base.

Dunford said he discussed the topic with Iraqi officials earlier this month during a visit to Iraq.

Work Remains in Anbar Province

In the meantime, the chairman said, the focus is consolidating in and around Ramadi, and then moving out to Anbar province. “There is a lot of work that remains to be done in Anbar, not only in and around Ramadi and the immediate surrounds, but the entire Anbar province,” he said.

The U.S. presence may change “in terms of what our weight of effort is,” he said, adding the United States likely will “be in and around those locations for some time to come, because there is still work to be done.”

The United States will still support the Iraqi security forces, with no immediate changes there, with “the exception of probably a reorientation of main effort,” he said.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

(Picture: Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Pierre de Villiers, chief of France’s defense staff, conduct a military honors ceremony at Ecole Militarie, a military school, in Paris, Jan. 22, 2016. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen)

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