More US troops could be needed to maintain momentum in the fight against ISIS and eventually topple the group’s capital city of Raqqa, Syria, the top US official in the region said Wednesday. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of US Central Command, told reporters he was “very concerned about maintaining momentum in the fight” and the US may have to take on “a larger burden,” The New York Times reported. Coalition spokesman Air Force Col. John Dorrian said Wednesday the US has asked for an increase in troop levels “a number of times,” including in the early days of the push toward Mosul in Iraq. Operation Inherent Resolve leadership has been clear that if it needs additional capabilities, requirements, or authorities, it will not hesitate to make the request, and so far those requests have been granted, Dorrian said. US forces have been advising and assisting Iraqi forces as they are pushing into the ISIS-held western half of Mosul, and “they have come under fire at different times,” Dorrian said. “They have returned fire at different times in and around Mosul.” Iraqi forces expect a tough fight in the ISIS-held part of city, where small, ancient streets mean they cannot use vehicles. Iraq’s growing air force has been active in the fight. Last month, Iraq’s 14 F-16s dropped 95 munitions in Mosul. “They’re capable of hitting the targets they intend to hit,” Dorrian said. “They are targeting with precision inside Mosul and doing a very good job.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.