Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Farthest Day

Our advisors with the Iraqi army will be pushed down to brigade level. And we will commit helicopter gunships as well as artillery to supplement air support for the drive on Mosul--whenever that happens.

We are adding support capabilities to the Iraq War 2.0:

The advisers — who up until now had been assisting Iraqi military divisions, which have about 10,000 troops — will extend that assistance to units of about 2,000 soldiers who are more directly involved in day-to-day combat, Defense Department officials said on Monday.

American and Iraqi commanders want the advisers, who the officials say will not be on the actual front lines, to move closer to the fighting so they can provide timely, tactical guidance to the Iraqis as they prepare for the long-awaited assault on Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which was seized by the Islamic State in 2014.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who made the announcement in a speech to dozens of American troops at the airport in Baghdad, said the Pentagon would also deploy several Apache attack helicopters and long-range artillery to aid in the fight. The Apaches, known for their withering — and accurate — fire, can quickly provide powerful air support to ground forces. He said that the Pentagon would also increase its logistical support for the Iraqi military.

And logistical help, of course, which will be needed for the large effort needed to advance to, take, and secure the large city of Mosul and its surrounding areas.

This isn't as good as having advisors down to the battalion level to assist in fighting the battles and calling in fire support, but I assume our (and allied) special forces units operating in the shadows will be providing that assistance while not being technically attached to Iraqi battalions or companies.

And after a year and a half of operating in Iraq our drone operators have gotten good at loitering and observing the enemy, and somewhat replicating that frontline capability, I'll guess.

Still, we continue to say that the conditions will be established to take Mosul by the end of this year:

Mr. Obama said in an interview with CBS News that aired on Monday that it was his expectation “that by the end of the year, we will have created the conditions whereby Mosul will eventually fall.”

It took us 30 months from Pearl Harbor (The Day of Infamy) to land at Normandy on D-Day (the Longest Day) in the biggest amphibious operation ever. From the fall of Mosul, it will then be 30 months from that even to the the first opportunity to actually commence the liberation of Mosul.

Which will happen eventually.

But no, really, take your time. What could go wrong?

History should call this Operation Overlong.