By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2014 – The strength of the 40-plus nation coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ultimately will defeat the terrorist group, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said here today.
Army Lt. Gen. James L. Terry provided an operational update to Pentagon reporters.
“The fact that we have so many nations united in this mission, I think, is really significant,” he said. “Various countries will contribute national capabilities on different timelines. The strength of this team is in our common purpose, and what unites us is a strong resolve to combat this threat.”
Three Foundational Priorities
The general described the combined joint task force’s three foundational priorities.
“First, we will contribute to build and maintain the coalition,” he said. The task force provides an organizing framework to synchronize and integrate capabilities and amplify the efforts of 40-plus nations, which provides strategic advantage, Terry explained.
“Second,” he said, “as a coalition, we will relentlessly pursue Daesh in order to degrade and destroy its capabilities and defeat their efforts.” Daesh is a name for the terrorist organization that’s based on an Arabic acronym and is the preferred term among Arab nations in the coalition.
As of today, 1,361 airstrikes have been conducted, and two nights ago, 53 precision strikes supported Iraqi security force operations around Sinjar and Zumar, resulting in those forces regaining about 100 square kilometers of ground, Terry said.
“Combined efforts like these,” he added, “are having a significant effect on Daesh’s ability to command and control, to resupply, and to conduct maneuvering.”
The coalition will continue to be persistent in striking the terrorists at every possible opportunity, Terry said, while working to deny them safe haven and sanctuary. This, he added, will be done through precision strikes and by enabling partners to expand their footprint and influence and to remove the opportunities for the terrorists to manipulate youth, harm citizens, deny basic services and recruit fighters.
The key, Terry said, is assisting the Iraqi government in improving the country’s security forces, which he said are regaining their confidence and proving more capable every day. Iraqi forces have retaken many critical areas, such as Mosul Dam, Haditha, Rabiya and Zumar, he noted.
The final priority, the general said, is the coalition enabling regional partners as part of a broader diplomatic, intelligence, military and economic effort.
“Iraqi security forces must be a capable force -- one that can restore Iraq’s sovereign borders, retake territory from Daesh and secure the Iraqi people,” Terry said. “An offensively minded and trained security force, backed by an inclusive government of Iraq, is the key to future stability.”
Additional U.S., Coalition Troops
Terry said an additional authorization for 1,500 U.S. personnel has been approved, and that they will serve in noncombat roles supporting additional advise-and-assist requirements and the effort to build partner capacity.
“In addition, we anticipate coalition contributions that should produce at least an additional 1,500 personnel in these efforts,” he said.
“We’re seeing initial successes in this fight,” Terry said, adding that the terrorists have been halted in transitioning to the defense and are attempting to hold what they currently have. This, he said, may result in some local counterattacks.
The challenges that lie ahead will require patience, Terry said.
“The government of Iraq understands the great threat they face, and they are resolved to defeat it,” he told reporters. “The combined joint task force represents … a new chapter of what I assess will be a successful campaign to bring the coalition’s power to bear and, ultimately, lead to the defeat of Daesh.”