Centcom Boss Calls for “Strategic Patience” in Middle East

The commander of US Central Command said air strikes are already taking a toll on the operations and communications of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but efforts in Iraq will require patience. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin said battle damage assessments and ISR indicates strikes have diminished specific capabilities and restricted movements of ISIS forces. Columns of military vehicles are a rare sight now, due to threat of strikes. ISIS fighters now use many civilian vehicles, in smaller numbers and are shifting their communications practices as their command and control infrastructure has been “fragmented” due to air strikes. This is hindering their ability to mass forces and project combat power, Austin said. Though the strikes have attracted some criticism, Austin said Centcom believes the manner in which they have been conducted thus far has allowed the coalition to secure critical support from regional states, particularly Arab partners. It is important to stress that the command’s “main effort” is focused in Iraq, to secure key areas, and build Iraqi capability to put pressure on ISIS, and efforts in Syria are in many ways an effort to shape outcomes in Iraq, said Austin. “We must maintain strategic patience,” Austin added.