Defense Secretary: Iraqi Army Has No ‘Will To Fight’

Matt Vespa
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Posted: May 24, 2015 3:00 PM
Defense Secretary: Iraqi Army Has No ‘Will To Fight’

Last week, ISIS forces took over Ramadi. It was their most significant victory in months. It also showed that airstrikes weren’t working in stopping the fledgling terrorist organization from taking more territory in Iraq. Moreover, when Iraqi government forces retreated from Ramadi, they left various U.S.-supplied vehicles, including tanks, behind that are now considered to be in the hands of ISIS. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said that the Iraqi army wasn’t outnumbered, but they a lacked the “will to fight.” Iraqi government officials said such allegations of no Iraqi fighting spirit were “baseless” (via AP):

The Islamic State group's takeover of the provincial capital Ramadi is stark evidence that Iraqi forces lack the "will to fight," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a TV interview that aired Sunday. The harsh assessment that raised new questions about the Obama administration's strategy to defeat the extremist group that has seized a strategically important swath of the Middle East.

Although Iraqi soldiers "vastly outnumbered" their opposition in the capital of Anbar province, they quickly withdrew last Sunday without putting up much resistance from the city in Iraq's Sunni heartland, Carter said on CNN's "State of the Union." The interview aired on Sunday.

The Iraqis left behind large numbers of U.S.-supplied vehicles, including several tanks, now presumed to be in Islamic State hands.

"What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Carter said. "They were not outnumbered; in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."

The White House declined to comment on Sunday.

Iraqi lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the parliamentary defense and security committee, called Carter's comments "unrealistic and baseless," in an interview with The Associated Press.

"The Iraqi army and police did have the will to fight IS group in Ramadi, but these forces lack good equipment, weapons and aerial support," he said.

American officials say they are sending anti-tank weapons to the Iraqi military. But they also noted that Iraqi forces were not routed from Ramadi— they left of their own accord, frightened in part by a powerful wave of Islamic State group suicide truck bombs, some the size of the one that destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma City two decades ago, said a senior State Department official who spoke to reporters last week under ground rules he not be named.

"The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week. "They drove out of Ramadi."

The Pentagon this past week estimated that when Iraqi troops abandoned Ramadi, they left behind a half-dozen tanks, a similar number of artillery pieces, a larger number of armored personnel carriers and about 100 wheeled vehicles like Humvees.

Right now, less than 20 percent of Americans think we’re defeating ISIS. Retired Army General Jack Keane spoke before the Senate Armed Service Committee last Thursday and said we were losing. So far, the Obama administration’s strategy seems to be holding steady, and by steady, I mean allowing ISIS to continue their land grab campaign in the Middle East. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on May 21 that defeating ISIS will “take some time.”

“I don’t think that they will find a lot of support on the part of the American people for a large-scale deployment of military resources to essentially re-invade Iraq—or invade Syria,” he added. Actually, a CBS News poll conducted in February found that 57 percent of Americans supported sending ground troops to fight the Islamic State.

Last noteThis wasn't Bush's fault