CJTF-OIR Spox: Coalition seeks cooperation between Peshmerga, Iraqi forces
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The official spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the US-led Coalition against the so-called Islamic State, Col. Myles B. Caggins III, explained to Kurdistan 24 that a major goal of the coalition is to promote improved cooperation between the Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in combating the terrorist group.
The Spokesman’s remarks came as Iraq’s central provinces suffer from increasing hit-and-run attacks from the Islamic State, which has targeted Iraqi forces in Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Diyala, and Anbar provinces.
Caggins cited previous joint military operations between the Peshmerga and the ISF, including the liberation of Mosul Dam in 2014, as a model for the conduct of operations now.
Speaking to Kurdistan 24 in a Skype interview on Saturday, Caggins affirmed, “This type of cooperation is one of the goals of the Coalition.”
“The Coalition remains in Iraq at the invitation of the government of Iraq,” he added, as he stressed that CJTF-OIR “will continue to support Peshmerga, Zeravani, Iraqi Army, [and] all of the security forces,” in order to secure the permanent defeat of ISIS.
Top Kurdistan Region officials and Peshmerga commanders have issued repeated warnings to both the Iraqi government and the international community that the Islamic State remains active and capable of reasserting itself, particularly in the disputed territories.
Iraqi leaders have also publicly declared that there should be “closer cooperation” among all the security forces in Iraq, Caggins told Kurdistan 24.
Caggins acknowledged that, in consultation with the ISF and the Ministry of Peshmerga, a decision was made “to stop training because of the safety hazards of COVID”—the virus now ravaging the world in the worst global health crisis in 100 years.
Some coalition members, like France, Denmark, and Poland, have returned home, Caggins said, but “the coalition is in continued discussions with the government of Iraq and our partners in NATO.”
“In the months ahead, we will see where those discussions go, with the continued mentoring and advising of the security forces,” he added.
Indeed, earlier this week, NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, called Iraq’s new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, to congratulate him. In their discussion, both men affirmed the need for a continued, even expanded, partnership.
Formerly, Kadhimi headed Iraq’s National Intelligence Service and is well aware of the threat that the so-called Islamic State poses to the country.
As Caggins noted, CJTF-OIR efforts in support of the Iraqi fight against the terrorist organization continue. “For the past two weeks, six nations have flown air support missions for the Iraqi Security Forces,” he said, explaining that the UK, Germany, France, Australia, and Canada “all fly to support the people of Iraq to defeat ISIS.”
After a recent consolidation of Coalition forces, CJTF-OIR now maintains two major military bases in Iraq—one at Al-Asad Air Base in Anbar province in western Iraq and the other at Erbil Air Base in the Kurdistan Region.
Editing by Laurie Mylroie