There can be no doubt that the strategy to drive ISIS from its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq has succeeded, but that doesn’t mean the struggle against the ideology is over, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in Baghdad.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford met with U.S. and coalition leaders in Iraq’s capital to discuss the next steps in the strategy to stop the terror group from ever coming back. He met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew H. Tueller and Army Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, the commander of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The bottom line is the ISIS threat has not gone away, the chairman said.
When Dunford made his first visit to Baghdad as chairman in 2015, Iraqi security forces tanks were positioned at various crossroads in the city in case ISIS fighters attacked. The terror group seemed to come out of nowhere to take eastern Syria and vast stretches of northern and western Iraq. Iraqi forces ran from ISIS and surrendered Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. The group declared Raqqa, Syria, as the capital of its caliphate and began the effort to turn back the calendar to the seventh century. The group continued to drive into Iraqi Kurdistan and held Ramadi – a city many consider a gateway to Baghdad.
But some units in Iraq stuck together, and U.S. forces and allies came into the country to help those forces become more effective in combat. At the time, many critics said the only way to defeat the terror group was via vast numbers of Western troops – by Western, they meant American. Some believed the United States had to launch another military surge into Iraq.
American political and military leaders believed there was a better strategy. The “train, advise and enable” model was christened, with a small number of American and partner-nation forces instructing Iraqi and Syrian security forces, advising them in combat and providing enabling capabilities to ensure ISIS defeat. The strategy has proven successful, and in March, the physical caliphate was eliminated.