The Iraqi forces not only needed to build the brigades necessary to retake Mosul, they needed confidence after allowing ISIS to take over the city and other areas in 2014, the top land commander in the US-led coalition said Wednesday. The Iraqis are up to the task to liberate Mosul, but it took a lot of work to get there, said Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve combined forces land component and commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “‘Would we like it to have gone faster?’ Sure, but there was a lot of hard work they had to do … to get the forces capable and equipped and then just get them ready,” Volesky said during a Wednesday briefing. “I think the other piece is, you know, they needed some confidence. They had no confidence.” The liberation of Ramadi in December 2015 started the “drumbeat” of the Iraqi approach toward Mosul. “Every time they take a piece of terrain away from ISIL, that’s a drumbeat. And that drumbeat is getting louder and louder every step they get closer to Mosul,” said Volesky. Before ISIS, Iraqi forces were trained in counter-insurgency, and not for the “big fight.” Unlike the US Army, which can call up another unit for a fight, the coalition had to train Iraqi brigades to be ready for the Mosul fight. “That’s not easy to do,” he said.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.