Iraqi security forces (ISF) have improved over the last quarter despite the US-led coalition ending most of its training, according to the latest report by the US Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Spanish soldiers serving with the coalition lower their flag at the Besmayah Range Complex as they hand the facility over to the Iraqi Army on 25 July. CJTF-OIR attributed this and other base transfers this year to the success Iraqi forces have had against the Islamic State. (Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve)
Released on 4 August, the report cited the US-led Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) as saying that the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) and Iraqi Army Aviation Command “continued to improve their capabilities, enabling them to conduct operations against ISIS [the Islamic State] with less need for coalition support”.
CJTF-OIR said the ongoing large-scale, multi-phase ‘Heroes of Iraq’ counter-insurgency operation against the Islamic State “showed that the ISF continues to improve its ability to deny ISIS terrain” even though it has only had limited coalition air support.
This seems to represent a significant turnaround from CJTF-OIR’s impressions of the opening phase of ‘Heroes of Iraq’. The OIG’s previous quarterly report released in May cited the coalition as saying that the failure to clear many targeted areas “may have demonstrated the ISF’s lack of resolve or capabilities”.
It said that most of the elite CTS units “were limited in their capacity to co-ordinate the manoeuvres of multiple subordinate elements in complex operations”. While the Iraqis flew some intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, they did not use their Scan Eagle or CH-4 unmanned aircraft for unspecified reasons.