Prepared by Costas Ioannou exclusively for SouthFront; Edited by Yoana
On April 18, Defence Secretary Ash Carter announced the next phase of the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant during a troop talk in Baghdad.
The authorization for the next steps was given by President Barack Obama and coordinated with Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi prime minister, and Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, as well as other leaders.
Carter is on an extended international trip that has included India, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. The secretary also will visit Saudi Arabia and will participate in the U.S. Gulf Cooperation Council defence meeting.
U.S. support for the Mosul Fight
U.S. will send more high-mobility artillery rocket systems, or HIMARS, to support the Iraqi ground offensive to retake Mosul, and will provide a $415 million package of financial assistance to the Peshmerga in response to a request from the Kurdistan regional government for economic assistance. Peshmerga funds is still to be determined.
Also, 217 new U.S. advisers would be send to Iraq. Mosul is four or five times the size of Ramadi and a lot farther away from Iraqi bases that provide logistics support.
On April 19, Defence Secretary Ash Carter met with Saudi Arabia’s defence minister, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The two leaders affirmed the long-time security partnership between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
They also discussed a range of issues related to mutual security interests, including checking Iranian activities in the region and countering violent extremism from groups like ISIL.
The United States and Saudi Arabia will deepen their security cooperation in enhancing training for special operations and counterterrorism forces, integrating air and missile defence systems, bolstering cyber defences, and strengthening maritime security.
On April 20, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve announced that Iraqi forces regained control of the key city of Hit last week, while clashes continue in the Tigris River Valley.
The capturing of Hit, disrupts the ability of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to move foreign fighters and supplies into the Euphrates River Valley and it sets the stage for future offensive operations.
There is also a close coordination between the Iraqi army, the Iraqi counter terrorism service and Sunni tribal forces. In the Tigris River Valley, Iraqi forces repelled several coordinated attacks.
On Monday, a U.S. Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress bomber, which was deployed into theatre earlier this month, conducted its first mission against ISIL. It targeted an ISIL weapons storage facility in Qayyarah, Iraq.
On April 22, U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq
Strikes in Syria
Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 10 strikes in Syria:
- Near Abu Kamal, a strike struck an ISIL weapons factory.
- Near Al Hawl, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
- Near Ar Raqqah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
- Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint.
- Near Manbij, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL vehicles.
- Near Mar’a, a strike destroyed an ISIL staging area.
- Near Washiyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
Strikes in Iraq
Rocket artillery and bomber, fighter, ground-attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
- Near Baghdadi, eight strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, two ISIL weapons storage facilities, and three ISIL bed down locations and destroyed three ISIL bunkers and denied ISIL access to terrain.
- Near Qaim, a strike struck an ISIL bomb-making facility.
- Near Beiji, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL bomb.
- Near Fallujah, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL-used bridge, an ISIL fighting position, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL bunker, and an ISIL tunnel system.
- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL recoilless rifle.
- Near Kirkuk, a strike destroyed an ISIL command and control node and an ISIL-used bridge.
- Near Mosul, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL check point, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL bomb.
- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed two ISIL mortar systems.
- Near Tal Afar, a strike produced inconclusive results.
From April 15 to 29, U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy personnel and aircraft will train with Republic of Korea Air Force counterparts in the bilateral training exercise Max Thunder 16, at Kunsan Airbase, South Korea.
Exercise Max Thunder is held annually, and is the largest military flying exercise held on the Korean Peninsula. Max Thunder is part of a continuous exercise program designed to enhance cooperation between U.S. and ROK forces.
Approximately 1200 U.S. personnel will participate in Max Thunder 16, in support of F-16 aircraft from 7th Air Force; F-18 aircraft from the 12th Marine Aircraft Group; and EA-18G aircraft from Electronic Attack Squadron 138 (USN VAQ-138).
Approximately 640 ROK personnel will also participate in the exercise, in support of KF-16, F-15K, F-5E, F-4E, FA-50, KA-1, UH-60, C-130 and CN 235 aircraft.
On April 19, The John C. Stennis Strike Group and the 8,500 Sailors attached arrived in Singapore for a regularly scheduled port visit.
USS John C. Stennis moored at Changi Naval base with the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay and the guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon and USS William P. Lawrence after participating in Exercise Balikatan 2016, an annual bilateral training exercise of the Philippine-U.S. alliance.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale will re-join JCSSG in port on April 20 after completing Multilateral Naval Exercise Komodo 2016, a multilateral exercise involving 35 countries focused on maritime peacekeeping operations and increasing interoperability between regional navies.
So far in their Western Pacific deployment, JCSSG has transited over 20,000 nautical miles using an advanced biofuel blend and other energy saving practices, to reduce fuel consumption and extend operational capabilities. They will depart the port visit to Singapore continuing to set the standard for energy conservation across the fleet.
Other components to JCSSG include Carrier Air Wing 9 and Destroyer Squadron 21, embarked aboard John C. Stennis.
CVW-9 consists of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14, Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133, VFA-151, VFA-97, VFA-41 and VFA-14.
Also on April 19, U.S. Pacific Command’s Air Contingent began flying operations at Clark Air Base, Philippines, with the launch of four A-10C Thunderbolt IIs and two HH-60G Pave Hawks.
The A-10s and HH-60s conducted a flying mission through international airspace in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal west of the Philippines. The A-10 missions enhance the U.S. military assets in the region.
The operations are achieved in part by the close partnership held between the U.S. and Philippine militaries. The two countries’ air and ground forces maintain a close bilateral bond through consistent military exercises.
All personnel in this first deployment are Air Force Airmen assigned to various Pacific Air Forces bases, and include aircrew, maintainers, logistics and support personnel.
U.S. Pacific Command plans this first iteration of the Air Contingent mission to last for the next several weeks. Future Air Contingent deployments will be fulfilled with various platforms and personnel from either Air Force or other service components.