The Promise of Tikrit

The recently completed Iraqi offensive against ISIS combatants in Tikrit, Iraq, showed that a combination of conventional Iraqi troops, US airstrikes and advisory support, and Iraqi irregular forces can effectively roll back the terrorist group’s advances, said the Defense Department leadership on Thursday. Tikrit marked the first time all the various parties and elements came together in this manner to defeat ISIS, Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters during a Pentagon press briefing with Defense Secretary Ash Carter. “We were able to support that and let that campaign reach a successful conclusion,” said Dempsey. He said he agreed with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi’s assessment that such operations could be a “model” to free other parts of Iraq under ISIS control. Carter said US forces were not embedded with the Iraqis in Tikrit as attack controllers or forward air observers. Instead, the Iraqis leveraged US expertise from command centers to ensure airstrikes hit only “valid targets” and were “effective and precise,” he said. The United States does not intend to use forward air controllers anywhere in Iraq, emphasized Carter. (Carter-Dempsey transcript)