ABOARD AN AMERICAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT —
Now is not the time to stop and regroup in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said after leaving Baghdad.
“The momentum has swung and … my experience tells me once you’ve got somebody in a headlock, you don’t let them go,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today in an interview on his way to Cairo, Egypt’s capital city.
In the counter-ISIL campaign in Iraq, Iraqi forces have retaken Beiji, Ramadi and Hit and are pushing up the Tigris River Valley to Makhmur toward the eventual battle to retake Mosul, Dunford said.
ISIL is losing resources, leaders and heart as the Iraqis keep achieving battlefield successes, he said.
Maintaining Pressure on ISIL
“It’s important that we keep pressure on them -- we keep pushing and pushing -- at whatever the pace is the Iraqis can sustain,” he said. “It is their fight; it is their momentum.”
Dunford said that when he became chairman in October 2015, the Iraqis were reacting to ISIL. Now the shoe is on the other foot, he said, as the terrorists have to react to Iraqi military offensives.
“We want to make sure that continues,” Dunford said. “I don’t take that for granted, because we are dealing with a very adaptive and determined enemy. As soon as you become complacent and you think this is breaking our way, that’s probably the most dangerous time.”
However, Iraqi military leaders now possess a degree of confidence they didn’t exhibit last year, the chairman said.
Still, Iraqi leaders are cognizant about the status of their forces, Dunford said.
“They know about the ammunition problems,” he said. “They know about the shortfalls in training; they know about the manning levels and the leadership gaps; they know about maintenance and spare parts; they know they have to figure out how to sustain the fight from a logistics standpoint.
“They know this,” Dunford continued. “But, they also now know that a problem is a problem and that they can be solved if they work together and work with us and work with the coalition.”
The chairman said this is a healthy attitude to have as the Iraqi forces confront more combat.
“I am a big guy on the psychological factors and the human factors as the difference between winning and losing,” Dunford said. “When do you win? You win when the other guy thinks he lost.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)