Wars and Conflict in Iraq
By Philip Harris Feb. 24, 2017
Spring, 2003, the United States had made up its mind to rid the world of another dictator who was known for gassing his own people to death, suppressing the will of his people and trying to establish a nuclear weapons program. The United States’s military, backed by their coalition of allies, invaded from Saudi Arabia to the south and overthrew the Ba’athist government ran by Saddam Hussein. “Shock and Awe” was the term used by the pentagon during the invasion, and it caused such a havoc in the Iraqi army most simply surrendered. A lot of the former army soldiers of Saddam’s army fell into hiding amid the civilian populations and began to plot their next moves.
The United States and allies had by 2005 been an occupying force right after the invasion. The regular and hardcore loyalist militias were pretty much defeated in months. The American coalition secured a new government and members that were elected in 2005 all across Iraq. From this point the coalition was in nation building mode.
When the coalition defeated the Iraqi Army, they fired and removed all those soldiers that were previously commanded by Saddam Hussein and his generals. This created a fresh slate of troops to be trained for the new democratic Iraq beginning in 2005 with the establishment of the new government with the coalition’s help. Laying off an army that was just over thrown, in hindsight was not a great idea at all. Although, what choice did the Americans have on the ground at the time was probably not very much.
Those fired veterans of the Iraqi army teamed up with Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Iranians also armed, funded and trained militias to cause any harm they could to western forces. These terrorist militias caused thousands of coalition troops to be killed or injured in battle with the majority coming from roadside bombs or IED’s. The coalitions were not dumb to this new tactic because Iraq is different terrain but in Afghanistan (Taliban) had an Insurgency campaign of similar sorts. The response from the western force was to surge Iraq with a lot more troops.
Iraq had calmed down enough the U.S. in 2007 began withdrawing a lot of it troops. The coalition followed proportionately. Basically ending the troop surge to stop the insurgency campaign. President Bush soon signed the U.S. Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which states all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by December 31st 2011. All U.S. Forces under President Obama were out of Iraq on December 18th 2011.
Turn the page on that chapter because a new chapter shortly began after the completion of the withdraw of western forces in December 2011. That new chapter is called ISIS.
What happened was, some of the assessments of the new Iraqi Army were that they were a capable well trained and equipped force. They were well trained by the Americans. They were completely equipped for pretty much free. The assessment overlooked loyalty and confidence though. The test of the new Iraq Amy really hit the spot light when all the various militias now against the new Iraqi government started regrouping when the American military left. It took those enemy militias a few years to stage and plot their move but when the moved the world was in shock.
Mosul fell with almost no resistance to what was now called ISIS in June 2014. Those soldiers who fought or were captured by ISIS, which was around 1,700 were massacred in Mosul. They planted seed and sleeper cells all throughout the world to be able to expand extremely fast while getting fresh recruits from every populated continent. Former Saddam loyalist intelligence officers and and soldiers formed the backbone of ISIS.
As of February 2017 the U.S. and 11 other allies have hammered ISIS with 11,160 airstrikes in Iraq and 7,298 in Syria (defense.gov). The United States Air Force has conducted 79% of those airstrikes. Just today the war received another actor in an awkward location. The Iraqi Air force has now dropped bombs on ISIS in Syria too.
Classified as the Iraqi Civil War, August 7th 2014 the United States was back to being involved directly with military assistance to Iraq. That assistance started with key airstrikes targeting crucial ISIS positions and equipment all around northern Iraq. ISIS mounted a siege before August on a religious sect of people called the Yazidis that the U.S. and its morals were not willing to just watch. 6 days later the ISIS siege was halted at mount Sinjar in Iraq and the Yazidi villagers were rescued by American black hawk helicopters.
Airstrikes are never enough because you need your own troops to have their own set of eyes ion the ground to assist in targeting ISIS. By September 2014 there were around 250 Special Forces operators the the U.S. in Iraq training, advising and assisting the Iraqi’s war against ISIS. Steadily that number has now rose to around 5,000 troops in training and advisory roles. But there are missile batteries, artillery batteries and special forces operators that have been pictured and videoed in combat.
With the new Trump administration setting it’s sights on ISIS and its destruction, Iraq and its neighbors are really looking like they cant get much more hot than they are. President Trump has issued an order for his generals and advisers from the Pentagon submit to him a plan for defeating ISIS within 30 days. The deadline for that plan is about a week away so there are stories coming out about troop increases everywhere. The battle is set to increase in intensity to remove ISIS’s safe havens in the Iraq territory and beyond.