The Battle to Retake Mosul Has Begun

By Faye Higbee

The Battle to Retake Mosul Has Begun

“The operations against Mosul have already started. In other words, you know, we’re isolating Mosul, even as we speak—the same thing with Raqqa. So it is not something that will happen in the deep, deep future.” Joint Chiefs of Staff  Chairman General Joseph Dunford

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and General Dunford  spoke on Monday, advising that multinational forces had begun to isolate the ISIS stronghold by cutting off the city’s supply and communications lines, and isolating Islamic State fighters with cyber and air and ground attacks. Some coalition forces are already going after ISIS inside Mosul, according to Defense One.

retake mosul

Preparation for the battle to retake Mosul- photo by Master Sgt. Mike Lavigne/Army

Defense One wrote,

Rather than sending brigades of U.S. forces to reinvade Mosul, the Obama administration has deployed special operators to target ISIS leaders and dispatched thousands of advisors, who have spent months preparing Iraqi, Kurd, and other local forces to do the job. The strategy has drawn blistering criticism from seasoned diplomats, former generals, and Republican leaders and presidential candidates, who have argued that greater U.S.military intervention could have broken ISIS sooner and saved innocents.

More roles for the US

Secretary Carter stated that the US would do more things than for the Ramadi battle. General Dunford told the Military Times that US involvement for the Mosul campaign would be bigger than Ramadi.

“I, like the secretary, think we would do more in Mosul than Ramadi just because of the order of magnitude of the operation in Mosul would indicate to me that we would have more U.S. support in Mosul than we did in Ramadi.” General Dunford

That includes not only Special Forces, but using more U.S. logistics support, and building temporary bridges – since Mosul is on the Tigris River.

ISIS took control of Mosul two years ago, and has since made it a base of their operations in Iraq.


US Defense Department map showing what they refer to as ISIS in retreat

Delta Force operations

On Monday, CNN reported that the Army’s Delta Force has begun operations in Mosul. The targeting of ISIS leaders, rescuing of hostages, specialized raids, and the “seizing of people and places” (capture or kill) were among their missions. The CNN article spoke of the process of setting up safe houses, informant networks, and in general scaring the pants off ISIS any way they can….  in other words, standard practice for Special Ops teams.

“The only thing I’ll say is the ETF [Expeditionary Targeting Force] is in position, it is having an effect and operating, and I expect it to be a very effective part of our acceleration campaign. I don’t have any more on that.” Secretary Ashton Carter

Cyber Attacks

The US is also conducting cyber attacks against the Islamic State’s communications in Mosul in order “to interrupt [and] disrupt ISIL’s command and control, to cause them to lose confidence in their networks, to overload their network so that they can’t function, and do all of these things that will interrupt their ability to command and control forces there, control the population and the economy.”

The Secretary also mentioned that fresh troops from the 82nd Airborne Division were already rotating into Iraq.