Tactical Success More Evident Against ISIS

In his first public comments since returning from his recent visit to Iraq, Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said Iraqi military forces have been demonstrating “tactical success” against ISIS terrorists in recent days, and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq are consolidating gains. The Iraqis are steadily pushing the “defensive belt” around Baghdad out and to the north, said Dempsey during a Washington, D.C., defense conference. “I think there will be continued progress, but we will have to make sure their enthusiasm does not overshadow their capability,” he said. At the same time, Kurdish peshmerga fighters have extended their influence to the southern edge of Kirkuk, he said. Dempsey stressed that US forces in Iraq are in a different role than during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He relayed an example of how the planning for an aerial resupply mission played out in a joint US-Iraqi operations center during his visit. The US commander noted to the Iraqis they had C-130s themselves to carry out the airdrop, but said US advisers would help rig and pack the bundles for the mission. “Instead of owning it, we tell them from the start, this has to be about you,” said Dempsey. “They flew [the mission], we fill in the gaps and build capability,” he said.