National Security

Looming Western Mosul Battle Has Global Strategic Consequences

By OpsLens Staff:

January 25, 2017

The impending operational and tactical battle for western Mosul between the Iraqi Military Coalition and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has now reached a pivotal juncture with global strategic-level impact. The governments of Iraq and the United States would benefit strongly from the defeat of ISIS in Mosul. ISIS’ defeat in Mosul would seriously degrade its credibility and viability to deliver its self-declared global caliphate against the “non-believers.” ISIS’ recruiting would plummet. So, let us treat this upcoming final attack on western Mosul with the importance that it warrants.

Because of the gravity and imminent timing of this final Mosul battle, the OpsLens staff humbly offers two crucial thoughts:

One thought is for Prime Minister Abadi of Iraq:

  • Pure political purposes or arbitrary deadlines are not helpful at this juncture of the Mosul fight. Because of the global strategic impact of the Mosul fight, we would not recommend rushing the Iraqi Military Coalition’s (IMC) final attack on western Mosul. Take a few extra days or a week to make sure that you refine the battle plan, you win decisively, and you win with relatively low casualties among your forces and the 750,000 trapped Mosul civilians.

The second thought is for President Trump of the US. You are now the commander-in-chief of the US military. You have inherited Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR)—the approved military operation to provide approximately 6000 US troops to “advise and assist” the IMC. Recent IMC successes in taking eastern Mosul have been widely attributed to the “close, on-the-ground” US special operations forces’ (SOF) support embedded with the lead IMC SOF and increased and accurate US fire support.

  • Have options been considered for any limited/temporary “surge support” for the US OIR commander on the ground for the forthcoming final attack on western Mosul? For example: Reinforce and synchronize, with the IMC special operations forces (SOF), a one-time raid on a critical ISIS asset/facility in western Mosul. We are currently doing that successfully in Syria. Could we lessen the restrictive rules of engagement on our forward-deployed (and embedded) SOF advisers to IMC SOF forces, for in extremis circumstances, for this one big battle?

For more details, read our companion article, “The Iraqi Military’s Coalition to Re-Claim Mosul: Additional Considerations Before Attacking Western Mosul” by Mike Furlong, January 25, 2017.

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