Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mosul: The Noose Tightens

As noose tightens around Mosul, U.S. forces begin advising Iraqi units closer to front lines

Interesting the operation of  US Forces with Iraqi units vs US Forces embedded with Kurdish militias? The news that US Forces will not be embedded with Iraqi army and assorted Shia militias in order to keep casualties down doesn't jibe with the fact that US forces, special operatives in particular, have been embedded with the Kurds at the frontlines in Iraq. North, east and west of Mosul. And there have been casualties. However the  south of Mosul positioning of the Iraqi forces and Shiite militias makes the possibility of mass casualties a distinct possibility and one the US may truly want to avoid.  (Referencing the always possible collapse of the Mosul dam, of course) Also, the US doesn't really want to assist these forces
American military advisers have begun working with Iraqi army battalions in forward positions, U.S. officials said, as the campaign against the Islamic State enters a new, more risky phase.

The first mission began on July 20, when combat engineers from the 101st Airborne Division were tasked with helping an Iraqi engineer battalion establish security around a temporary bridge constructed over the Tigris River.

The bridge, southeast of the town of Qayyarah, is expected to be a key infrastructure point in the upcoming offensive for Mosul, a crucial test for Iraqi forces and their Western backers.
But the small team of American engineers, in a departure from the longer-term advisory missions that characterized earlier campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, has spent only a limited number of hours a day with the Iraqi army battalion before falling back to its more fortified position near Makhmour for the night. The engineers’ work is now mostly complete.
“It was short-duration, high-payoff,” said Col. Chris Garver, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition.

The narrowly targeted mission, with limited battlefield exposure, is an illustration of the restricted role that American commanders are planning for U.S. ground forces in the Mosul operation.
According to senior commanders, U.S. advisers will make short visits to Iraqi battalion headquarters, sometimes for only a few hours, rather than embedding with the local troops for extended periods.
The planned ground role is a recognition of the difficult course U.S. commanders must navigate as they seek to provide Iraq’s military with needed support without inflaming tensions with Shiite militias or fueling perceptions that the already fragile Iraqi government is reliant on foreign power.
It is also borne out of a desire to avoid additional U.S. casualties. Already, three Americans have died in combat in Iraq since 2014. (Embedded with the kurds)

If Iraqi troops succeed in swiftly smashing the militants’ grip on the city, it would bolster Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is grappling with a fiscal crisis and pressure from Shiite allies, and would also deliver a needed victory to President Obama before he steps down.
* There are definitely parties that don't want the Iraqi troops to smash the 'militants grip' in Mosul
* There are parties that don't want PM al Abadi to be bolstered
* And the US is one of those parties.

As I've stated & has been reported here a plenty! The US has been doing way more the advising the Kurdish thugs
While U.S. Special Operations forces have already been advising elite counterterrorism troops and Kurdish peshmerga forces at their lower levels, the Qayyarah mission marks the first time since 2014 that U.S. forces have advised Iraqi army battalions in the field.

While the Pentagon has not announced a timeline for launching an assault on the city, officials have hinted that it could begin in the late fall. By that time, MacFarland’s replacement, Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, is expected to be in command in Baghdad.

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