But the turning point in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq I think was the liberation of Ramadi, just as it was a turning point in 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Here, the Iraqi counterterrorism service and Iraqi army, with our support, won a hard-fought victory. In the process, they broke the back of enemy resistance in Anbar province by inflicting massive casualties, cutting off Fallujah, dealing a huge blow to enemy morale, and proving to themselves that they were better than Daesh.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the liberation of Ramadi was the end of the beginning of the campaign against Daesh. The beginning of the end will be the liberation of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. Once it is recaptured, the enemy in Iraq will be reduced to scattered pockets of resistance and that is now our focus.
That was my judgment as the battle was raging:
I sense that Ramadi was ISIL's high water mark in Iraq and that Iraq will begin visibly winning this war from now on.
Whether it is fast or slow may depend on whether Iraq has access to trained mobile forces to be the core of fast-moving offensives.
As it turned out, the gathering victory has been slow. We never have gotten trained mobile forces capable of spearheading offensives.
Perhaps the drive on Mosul will be different. One can hope.
Better to win fast than risk an enemy finding a way to use time we've granted to pull a rabbit out of a hat.