Task Force-Iraq, of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, marked a new phase in its advising mission to Iraqi Security Forces, July 2, 2020.
A brief ceremony recognized the transition to Military Advisor Group, as TF-I reduces its number of personnel and reorganizes as part of a new approach to support ISF defeat Deash operations. The MAG will be smaller in size, but with expert specialized capabilities to advise Iraqi security staff and leaders. Former TF-I personnel will return to their home countries or reallocate to support other CJTF-OIR missions.
The MAG consists of advisors from 13 Coalition nations, working side-by-side with Iraqi operational command liaison officers in one centralized Baghdad location. The MAG is led by U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Ryan Rideout.
“It’s an honor, and quite frankly very humbling, to be a part of this mission,” said Rideout to his Iraqi partners at the ceremony. “I look forward to learning from and working with you as we continue to build upon the great success of the Joint Operations Command Center-Iraq.”
As part of the new command structure, Coalition advisor teams will provide specialized planning mentorship to ISF directorates overseeing operations, logistics, intelligence and other military functions. The MAG will include a Joint Operational Command Advisor Team and two Operational Command Advisor Teams. All elements will assist the ISF with operational planning, intelligence fusion, and air support for Iraqi-led military operations to defeat the Daesh threat in Iraq.
After successfully training nearly a quarter million ISF members, shifting the task force’s focus to centralized senior mentoring makes sense, said the departing TF-I commander, U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Bill Seely. Although TF-I has changed in name and structure, what remains consistent is its focus on enabling the ISF to continue to defeat ISIS terrorist gangs.
“It’s about assisting our Iraqi security partners where and when they request, and matching our capabilities ‘tooth-to-tail’ to best meet that request,” said Seely.
TF-I service members and their Iraqi partners marked the transition with a change of command ceremony in Baghdad. Seely passed an Iraqi officer’s baton, known as a “swagger stick,” to Rideout, symbolizing the transition of command.
“The leadership of the MAG (Coalition forces) and JOC-I (Iraqi forces) going forward will truly change the country of Iraq,” said Seely. “It is truly one team working toward a common goal.”
As the CJTF-OIR mission continues, Coalition efforts will focus more heavily on high-level advising to ISF staff and leadership. In 2020, the ISF have conducted more than 1,200 independent operations against ISIS; the ISF is already better than Daesh. The MAG’s technical advice and access to international military capabilities will enable greater operational reach for ISF missions to defeat Daesh in Iraq.
Due to the success of the Iraqi Security Forces against ISIS, the Coalition transferred small inner-compounds on six Iraqi bases to full Iraqi control between March and May 2020. Now, the new Enhanced Joint Operations Center provides centralized advising for operations across several provinces. The Iraqi Security Forces will get the same quality of Coalition support from fewer Coalition troops, operating from fewer bases.