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Defense Secretary Defense Secretary Ash Carter Signals Possible Iraq Strategy Shift

Iraq-Ramadi-WSJ
Jon Hilsenrath and Janet Hook report: Defense Secretary Ash Carter held open the possibility of a strategy shift by the White House on Iraq, a few days after recent setbacks in Iraq and Syria revived sharp criticism of the Obama administration’s approach in combating extremist groups there.

Islamic State forces last week captured the key Iraqi city of Ramadi and also expanded their reach in Syria. Critics and even allies of the administration took to Sunday television talk shows to call for a strategy change by the administration to stem the advance of Islamic State forces.

Michele+Flournoy+Gen+Patraeus+Testifies+Senate

“We have under-resourced the strategy. We need to provide more firepower support…ISIS is a threat not only to Iraq and Syria. It is a threat to us.”

— Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense from 2009 to 2012

Among the calls: More aggressively arming Sunni tribes and Peshmerga forces who oppose Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS.

“If there comes a time when we have to change the kinds of support we give we will make that recommendation.”

Mr. Carter said in an interview with CNN aired Sunday.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) said on ABC’s “This Week” that the battle in Ramadi was among the many reasons why he doubted the Obama administration’s claim that U.S. efforts have succeeded in degrading the strength of ISIS.

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“The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force and yet they failed to fight and withdrew from the site…We can give them training, we can give them equipment. We obviously can’t give them the will to fight.”

— Defense Secretary Ash Carter

“I don’t see evidence of that,” said Mr. Thornberry. “I see ISIS gaining territory in Iraq and Syria.” What is more, he said, “their ideology, their approach, their brand is growing faster than their territory.”

The administration has scaled back its near-term ambitions by delaying plans for an offensive to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It has agreed to expand and speed shipments of military equipment to Iraqi security forces and step up training for fighters from Sunni tribes.

Mr. Carter offered a withering critique of the will of Iraqi defense forces in the fall of Ramadi to Islamic State.

“The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” he said. “They were not outnumbered. In fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force and yet they failed to fight and withdrew from the site…We can give them training, we can give them equipment. We obviously can’t give them the will to fight.”

John McCain, (R., Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” called for U.S. special forces in Iraq, in addition to forward air controllers who help direct bombing missions from the air….(read more)

WSJ

Write to Jon Hilsenrath at jon.hilsenrath@wsj.com and Janet Hook at janet.hook@wsj.com

 

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2 Comments on “Defense Secretary Defense Secretary Ash Carter Signals Possible Iraq Strategy Shift”


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