Thursday, March 10, 2016

Use It Or Lose It

There is a problem with our delay in defeating ISIL in Iraq.

The assault on Mosul is slowly being prepared:

It will take many more months to prepare Iraq's still struggling military for a long-anticipated assault on the Islamic State group's biggest stronghold in the country, the city of Mosul, U.S. and Iraqi officials say — and it may not even be possible to retake it this year, despite repeated vows by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

As the U.S. and its allies furiously work to train thousands more troops for the daunting task of retaking Iraq's second largest city, Islamic State fighters are waging a diversion campaign of bloody suicide attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere. Their aim is to force Iraq's already overburdened security forces to spread even thinner to protect the capital and other cities rather than prepare the Mosul operation.

Giving ISIL the chance to slaughter civilians while the killing blow is being prepared is one obvious problem of putting off the offensive.

But another problem exists that isn't as apparent as we train Iraqis who lost their skills and leadership while we were absent.

You don't train troops and put them on a shelf until you need them. That should be obvious from our need to train Iraqis now.

But we've been training Iraqis since winter 2014. As we and our allies create a pipeline of trained Iraqi troops coming out of our camps, unless those troops keep training they will lose the effects of that training.

And even if the units we trained keep their edge, the troops we train will complete their term of service and leave the army. Perhaps they will leave to join a militia that actually protects their neighborhoods.

It's great that we are training Iraqis. But how do we keep the units trained ready to fight as years pass by? And how do we deal with trained troops leaving the service? They are as gone as troops who are dead, wounded, or who have forgotten their training.

Get on with it! ISIL across all of Syria and Iraq numbers under 30,000 fighters! Iraq has many more troops plus far more firepower available.

If you give an enemy time, they will use the time.