The coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has the momentum to end the terror group’s hold in Iraq and Syria, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford also told the panel that he is worried about the joint force and the ability of the force to operate in the future.
The chairman testified alongside Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
The coalition, led by indigenous forces in Iraq and Syria, has made significant progress against ISIL, Dunford said. The coalition has also hit the group in other areas where it has established a foothold — Libya, Afghanistan and West Africa, the chairman added.
“Coalition operations supporting indigenous ground forces … have disrupted core ISIL’s ability to mount external attacks, reduced its territorial control, limited its freedom of movement, eliminated many of their leaders and reduced the resources that they had available,” Dunford said. “Most importantly, the coalition has begun to discredit ISIL’s narrative and its aura of invincibility.”
While more needs to happen, he said, “it’s clear we have the momentum in the military campaign.”
The chairman backed up testimony from last week by the military chiefs. They spoke about readiness shortfalls in personnel, equipment and in modernization and research funding. “I fully concur with their assessment of the operational tempo and the budget challenges faced by each of the services and across department,” he said.
While the challenges are present, the joint force remains the most capable and professional military in the world, the chairman said. “We can defend the nation, we can meet our alliance responsibilities and today we have a competitive advantage over any adversary,” he added.