WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2015 —
help in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has
broadened the reach of the coalition, Marine Corps Brig. Gen Kevin J. Killea,
chief of staff of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said
spoke live from Southwest Asia to media members during a digital video
conference, offering an update on CJTF-OIR operations in Iraq.
week, Turkey began conducting anti-ISIL air strikes after its contributions
were formalized as part of the CJTF-OIR process necessary for integrating
coalition members into the fight.
entry into CJTF operations, along with our ability to base attack platforms out
of Incirlik [Air Base], has significantly broadened our capabilities by
increasing flexibility and targeting and target-area coverage overall,” Killea
Turkish military counterparts are now included in the CJTF air-tasking order,”
he added, “resulting in a seamless level of coordination and synchronization of
latest contribution in the ongoing partnership with Turkey will ensure more operational
integration and successes, the general added, calling it another example of
partner nations working toward the common goal of defeating ISIL.
of ISIL’s deadliest weapons on the ground are improvised explosive devices and
vehicle-borne IEDs, which Killea called a constant threat facing the Iraqi forces.
have consistently been a leading cause of casualties for [Iraqi] forces and
have contributed significantly to slowing the pace of operations in places like
Ramadi,” the general said.
Pace of Operations
the time it took Iraqi forces to launch a counterattack in Ramadi against the
extremist militant group, ISIL was able to cover the area with IEDs and other
obstacles, Killea said. The Iraqis are now methodically clearing those devices as
they close on the city along multiple avenues of approach. Ramadi, he added, is
still a hotly contested area.
is “keenly aware” of the significant counter-IED fight the Iraqi forces are now
engaged in and expect to face in future operations, the general said.
past several months CJTF has prioritized issuing counter-IED equipment to the Iraqi
forces in the form of bulldozers, mine-clearing equipment, anti-armor weapons
for the vehicle-borne IED threat and other assured mobility assets, he added.
same time, he said, coalition training “has paralleled the equipping efforts by
deploying counter-IED training teams to augment other trainers at Taji, Besmaya
and Asad. More than 8,000 Iraqi army and Peshmerga soldiers have trained in
various aspects of counter-IED operations.”
training, Killea added, is in addition to initial training that more than
12,000 graduates have received as part of the four- to six-week individual
specialty courses given through a program called Building Partner Capacity, or
week, the general said, the 75th Iraqi Army Brigade continued its latest block
of instruction on coalition-provided weapons.
the next week we will issue weapons and equipment to battalions of the 75th
through the government of Iraq. This will lead to a two-week training block on
the use and maintenance of those weapon systems,” Killea said.
training for the 75th’s first battalion and starting training for the second
battalion “gets us closer to having a fifth Iraqi Army brigade trained at a BPC
platform,” he added.
CJTF fully expects that such training will give the 75th “the necessary level
of tactical proficiency to provide the Iraqi army an overall greater level of
confidence in their operational capabilities,” Killea said.
Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)