The commander of U.S. Central Command detailed the progress of the Mosul offensive in Iraq and also spoke of the long-range strategies for the United States in the Middle East during a discussion at the Center for American Progress here today.
Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel answered questions from former Deputy Defense Secretary Rudy DeLeon, stressing at all times the need to listen to allies in the region.
Votel gave a quick update on the Iraqi offensive to liberate their country’s second-largest city from the clutches of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. “What I can report to you is that it is on track with the plan,” he said. “In some areas, we are right where we expected to be, [and] in other areas we are a little bit ahead of where we expected to be.”
ISIL is facing advances from three different directions – the south, east and northeast, the general said, and they are getting squeezed. “What we are seeing so far is that the plan the Iraqi security forces have put together along with their Kurdish partners … is meeting the needs of what we must do right now,” he said.
Time, Effort, Sacrifice
The offensive is only three days old, Votel noted, and the ISIL terrorists have had two years to build up defenses and emplace booby-traps and improvised explosive devices throughout the city. He said he expects the liberation of Mosul to take a lot of time, effort and sacrifice.
The key watchwords Votel said he uses for the counter-ISIL campaign are “momentum” and “pressure.”
“It is extraordinarily important that we keep momentum up for our activities,” he said. “There is a lot of activity that we are continuing to pursue out there because it supports the other notion of constant pressure on the Islamic State.”
Operations against the group in Syria and other parts of Iraq did not stop because of the offensive on Mosul, the general pointed out. “The strategy has been to try to present the Islamic State with as many dilemmas as we possibly can,” he said.