The US led coalition is not directly coordinating with Iranian forces in Iraq, but is working with the Iraqi government and military forces to plan offensive operations, said Army Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. Terry told reporters Thursday that he too has read and observed reports on Iranian airstrikes and military advisers in portions of Iraq, though he made it clear that he has no direct contacts with the Iranians. However, Terry indicated his close work with the Iraqis is likely one of the avenues of addressing deconfliction concerns on the battlefield. “What I would tell you is that all of my activities are focused on [ISIS] and I coordinate those activities through the Iraqi Ministry of Defense,” Terry said. Ensuring clear communications is critical to future operations, as the Iraqis are indicating they are pressing to take the offensive north to areas like Mosul. Advisers are working with Iraq to ensure they can balance capabilities and to really drill down to what they need. For example, repairing ISF heavy weapons is just as important as efforts to acquire new arms, he noted. “Planning how you generate forces for [offensive] operations” is a large part of the work that is ahead for Iraqis in Baghdad and Irbil, he noted.
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.