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Immediate Release

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the Start of Working Group Meetings of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Military Commission

The United States and the Government of Iraq will start working group meetings of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Military Commission (HMC) in the coming days, initiating a process the two sides committed to during the U.S.-Iraq Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue (JSCD) in Washington, D.C., on August 7-8, 2023. The commencement of the HMC process reflects the deep U.S. commitment to regional stability and Iraqi sovereignty.

The HMC will enable the transition to an enduring bilateral security partnership between the United States and Iraq, building on the successes of Iraq's Defeat-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (D-ISIS) campaign in partnership with the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve as part of the Global Coalition to D-ISIS.  

The HMC builds upon the inaugural U.S.-Iraq JSCD, held on August 7-8, 2023. During that meeting, the United States and Iraq committed to start the HMC to discuss how the Coalition's mission to defeat ISIS will transition on a timeline that considers three key factors: the threat from ISIS, operational and environmental requirements, and the Iraqi security forces' capability levels.

Expert working groups of military and defense professionals will examine these three factors and advise the HMC on the most effective evolution of the D-ISIS Coalition mission, ensuring that ISIS can never resurge, in consultation with Coalition partners at all stages of the process.

U.S. military personnel are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, as part of Operation Inherent Resolve's mission to advise, assist, and enable the Iraqi security forces in their ongoing fight against ISIS. The United States remains committed to a secure, stable, and sovereign Iraq.

The United States and Iraq have enjoyed a deep and productive partnership on security matters in the 10 years since the Iraqi government invited the United States and the Coalition to fight ISIS, including the seven years since the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq. The start of the HMC process reflects the evolving U.S.-Iraq bilateral relationship under the Strategic Framework Agreement, and it underscores our commitment to deepen our security cooperation to advance stability within Iraq and the region.