Dempsey: Forces “Drove” Out of Iraq, They Weren’t “Driven” Out

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, weighed in on the changing situation in Ramadi, Iraq, on May 20, saying Iraqi forces deliberately retreated and were not driven out by ISIS forces. During a stop in Brussels, Belgium, Dempsey said US officials are working with Iraqi leaders to figure out what happened, stressing he believed Iraqi security forces drove out of the city during a May 16 sandstorm after assessing their position. A large group of Iraqi security forces were deployed in Anbar Province, but believed they were not supported well enough to face an ISIS offensive, he added. The sandstorm also precluded US air support, which was critical to operations in Tikrit in March, causing the Iraqi commander on the ground to make “what appears to be a unilateral decision to move to what he perceived to be a more defensible position,” Dempsey said. Over the past week, reports indicated ISIS had pushed Iraqi security forces out of large portions of Ramadi, the capital city of Anbar Province, which lies west of Baghdad. Ramadi has been disputed territory for months, going back to late last year when ISIS forces seemingly threatened to overrun most of the province on their way to Baghdad’s international airport.