The Plan to Retake Mosul

An Iraqi-led military force of some 20,000 troops are preparing to retake Mosul from ISIS terrorists this spring, said a US Central Command official, speaking to Pentagon reporters via satellite on background Feb. 19. The official said military planners would like to see the operation begin in the April or May timeframe, before Ramadan and the summer heat hits, but it will depend on how long it takes Iraqi and Kurdish forces to get prepared. It’s still not clear whether US military advisors would be deployed to the frontline in what is shaping up to be the biggest battle since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve last August. The official said senior military leaders “have not closed the door” on the possibility of deploying joint terminal attack controllers to assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the fight. In addition, the US will continue to provide “the full range of military options that we’ve given them,” including training and equipping, logistical support, air support, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, said the official. The Iraqi-led attack force will include five Iraqi army brigades, “three smaller brigades that will comprise a reserve force,” and three Peshmerga “brigades that will help contain from the north and isolate from the west.” In addition, “there will be what we’re calling a Mosul fighting force, which will be comprised of largely police and tribal [members] … and then finally, a brigade equivalent of CTS forces,” said the official. The five Iraqi army brigades will go through US-led training sites before the operation begins.