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OIR Follows in Predecessors' Footsteps in Defeating ISIS, Official Says

July 23, 2020 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

The Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve coalition has achieved great success in its mission to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the deputy commander of CTJF-OIR said in a live satellite feed from Baghdad.

In an update on the coalition's operations, Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth P. Ekman emphasized that the success in defeating ISIS is built on the triumphs of predecessors and Iraqi and Syria partners. 

With ISIS no longer in control of physical territory, Ekman said the organization struggles to conduct coordinated activities, because Iraqi security forces find and destroy their hideouts and weapons caches. ISF efforts are enabled by coalition support, including advising, intelligence planning and precision airstrikes, he added. 

Four members of the Iraq Federal Police conduct an exercise.
Besmaya Range Drill
Members of the Iraq Federal Police assigned to the 13th Brigade, practice squad movement drills at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, Aug. 5, 2018. A coalition created from a diverse international community continues its support to the people of Iraq to enhance the capabilities of the nation to ensure security and stability.
Photo By: Army Spc. Eric Cerami
VIRIN: 180805-A-DM672-045

''The ISF continues to prove their capabilities as a cohesive force, even in complex operations,'' he said, citing how the Iraqi Joint Operations Command recently wrapped up the fourth phase of the Heroes of Iraq Campaign. They showed outstanding cooperation among the Iraqi army, Federal Police intelligence service and anti-terrorism troops in clearing ISIS hideouts in remote areas. 

''Wherever [ISIS] seeks sanctuary, the ISF will find them,'' Ekman said.

Progress also is evident in coalition reposturing, he said. 

''We are getting smaller. In the early days of the coalition, a broad network of bases was essential. We were battling ISIS in Mosul, Anbar and Abu Kamal ,'' he said, noting that the bases were used to foster U.S. relationships with the ISF and stage training and tactical capabilities. 

A member of the Iraq Federal Police kicks in a door as two other police men back him up during training in Iraq.
Door Kick
Members of the Iraq Federal Police practice urban squad movements at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, Aug. 1, 2018. A coalition created from a diverse international community will continue its support to the people of Iraq to enhance the capabilities of the nation to ensure security and stability.
Photo By: Army Spc. Eric Cerami
VIRIN: 180801-A-DM672-109

Now, more than six years later, the coalition has trained in excess of 250,000 ISF and has built strong relationships based on trust and mutual interests, the general said, adding, ''The ISF is doing things for itself — training forces and even developing training cadre that we used to do for them.'' 

On July 25, he added, ''we will take another step by handing over control of the base Besmaya to the Iraqis. Spain led the coalition effort in their training of 50,000 ISF since 2015. Their work is done there.''

So the coalition in Spain can depart — divesting equipment and facilities to include enhanced weapons ranges and mock-urban villages, valued at almost $5 million to the Iraqi government. 

Base transfers to include Besmaya reflect a shift to providing high-end advice and support at the operational command level. Because the Iraqis still need coalition help with planning, intelligence and surveillance capabilities and coalition airpower, OIR activated a military advisory group July 2 in Baghdad, Ekman said. 

The centralized location allows military advisors from 13 coalition nations to work alongside senior Iraqi officers to plan and execute operations against ISIS across all provinces in the country, he noted. 

A member of the Iraq Federal Police aims a gun.
Shooting Practice
A member of the Iraq Federal Police with the 13th Brigade practices an assault movement at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, Aug. 6, 2018. A coalition created from a diverse international community will continue its support of the people of Iraq to enhance the capabilities of the nation to ensure security and stability.
Photo By: Army Spc. Eric Cerami
VIRIN: 180806-A-DM672-035

''This approach has already proven its value in recent large-scale operations, to clear [ISIS] remnants,'' Ekman said. ''The ISF is already stronger than ISIS. Our high-level advising approach is moving our Iraqi partners to improve self-reliance. Together, we remain united and resolved to achieve the enduring defeat of [ISIS] and regional stability.''

After recently traveling to northeast Syria, the deputy commander highlighted the coalition's close partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces and their success against ISIS. 

''They are capturing ISIS lieutenants, busting smuggling networks and denying [ISIS] territory, critical infrastructure and revenues. Overall, the SDF is a strong, capable force, and we are committed to partnership with them,'' Ekman said.

The general reminded reporters of the selfless service of U.S. troops. ''Yesterday, we lost one of our young warriors, who was conducting a security patrol in northeastern Syria,'' he said. ''On behalf of our commander, [Army] Lt. Gen. Pat White and the entire 82-member coalition, we send our condolences and prayers to the families of our fallen comrade.''