June 1, 2017
The Pentagon is asking Congress for $1.8 billion to continue an Obama administration program to train and equip Iraqi and Syrian forces to fight against the Islamic State and resist a major commitment of U.S. ground troops.
The fiscal 2018 budget request released last week seeks roughly $1.3 billion to back Iraqi forces as the U.S. hopes to contain a post-Islamic State landscape of deadly ethnic and sectarian conflicts and keep “thousands” of ISIS loyalists from continuing to wage war.
While U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not publicly announced the administration’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State group, his 2018 budget request is remarkable in its detail. For example, it proposes a hefty, three-year U.S. commitment to build a far more effective force out of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, or CTS, that has already suffered 40 percent combat losses.
For 2018, that would take $445 million to train and equip Iraqi security forces as well as $329 million to replace past and projected equipment losses to include 200 AM General-made Humvees, 80 Iraqi light armored vehicles, 25 Oshkosh-made FMTV cargo trucks, 10 armored bulldozers and $60 million in shipping costs.
“The [Iraqi security forces] have sustained heavy losses of up-armored vehicles, some support vehicles, and heavy bulldozers which are used to clear mined areas as they counter ISIS,” budget documents say. “Many of the [Iraq train and equip fund]-provided armored troop carriers, gun trucks, route clearance, and counter-IED exploitation vehicles have suffered irreparable catastrophic damage.”
The Department of Defense envisions the CTS, borne of an Iraqi special forces unit created by coalition forces after the 2003 U.S. invasion, as a core security force for the future. It requests $193 million in vehicles, guns and personnel equipment for the force as part of plans to restructure it into both “an elite infantry force” and a “special operations force to eliminate terrorist organizations.”
It would supply equipment and training to create a restructured 20,000-strong CTS that would shift back from its infantry role in fighting in Mosul to a counterterrorism function that would include hold-force, police and border troops.
Iraqi counterterrorism forces led operations to clear ISIS from Ramadi in 2015, and — with American-led airstrikes — seized back Hit, Fallujah and Qayyarah. They are involved in ongoing operations to retake Mosul.
Source: Defence News