Thornberry Cites Progress and Concerns in Iraq, Afghanistan

Just back from a visit to Iraq and Afghanistan, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry said he found the US-aided local forces “are making progress on the ground” there, though the situation in Syria remains chaotic. Speaking to reporters Monday, Thornberry (R-Texas) said he has serious concerns about the local forces ability to deal with two major urban targets, Mosul and Raqqa, if they succeed in taking them from ISIS. After the Iraqis regained Fallujah they were making plans to liberate Mosul, although no one could predict when that would come, he said. “They can take the ground, but how do they hold it?” he said. That raises the serious need for the Iraqi government improving its inclusiveness among the competing ethnic and religious groups, he said. Thornberry said the Afghan National Security Forces are fighting much better after having had a rough time last year, their first fighting season without major US combat support. On Syria, Thornberry said, “I haven’t talked to anyone who knows how that will work.” And, he added, “I think we have to be careful with expectations as we think about the future in this area.”