Iraqi Forces Take Mosul Airport Runway Amid Rules of Engagement Revamp

By Faye Higbee

Iraqi forces secured the runway at the Mosul Airport in Iraq on Thursday, aided by coalition forces, according to the Chicago Times. It was not an easy task, and much of the facility is in ruins. But there were some changes in the way the relationship was handled as opposed to previous methods, and it had to do with the Rules of Engagement.

According to an article in the Military Times, previously ground commanders had to submit their airstrikes and plans to what was termed a “Strike Cell,” a “joint command” center in Baghdad that decidedly slowed the process. Under a new directive by Lt Gen Stephen Townsend, the landscape changed when he issued a directive that moved “advisers” closer to the fighting. An additional directive after that also made changes in the ROEs for their fight.

Removing some of the bureaucracy

Military Times reported,

Under the December directive and an additional directive issued a few weeks ago, [U.S. Army Lt. Col. James] Browning said advisers like him embedded at the brigade level are now able to directly deliver support such as airstrikes and artillery fire to the units they’re partnered with.

Previously, such support “would have gone through a whole bureaucracy and through Baghdad,” he said.

The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, Air Force Col. John Dorrian, confirmed to The Associated Press the rules of engagement in the fight against ISIS in Iraq were adjusted by the December directive, explaining that some coalition troops were given the “ability to call in airstrikes without going through a strike cell.”

More coalition forces have been “empowered” to have the ability to call in strikes in the Mosul operation, Col. Dorrian told a Pentagon press briefing on Wednesday.

“This is something that maintains a very high level of precision, but it also increases the amount of responsiveness for the teams on the ground,” he said.
Since the directive, the article states that Iraqi forces have made swifter progress. Lt Gen Townsend has stated that he wants the Mosul offensive to be completed within 6 months due to humanitarian issues in Mosul, and the probability of  infighting between the coalition forces.
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