Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told President Obama that the amount of information revealed about upcoming operations against ISIS is both unprecedented and dangerous.
In an extensive briefing Thursday with reporters, an official with U.S. Central Command said the planning to attempt to take Mosul from ISIS continues.
“The equipping that’s associated with those training sites is — is not free of challenges, but it is generally working on pace. As an example, it is our estimate that the amount of equipment that we have put between coalition contributions and U.S. contributions, in excess of about six brigades’ worth of equipment. And so it is generally keeping pace with those training sites and the effort to get ready for Mosul,” the official said.
The CENTCOM official said they’re shooting for an “April-May timeframe” for a Mosul offensive.
“There are still a lot of things that need to come together. And as we dialogue with our Iraqi counterparts, we want them to go in that timeframe, because as you get into Ramadan and the summer and the heat, it becomes problematic if it goes much later than that. But by the same token, if they’re not ready, if the conditions are not set, if all the equipment that they need is not physically there and they are trained to a degree in which they will be successful, we have not closed the door on continuing to slide that to the right.”
The official went further into detail about the forces expected to be involved. “What we know as of right now is there — in the attack force, there will be five Iraqi army brigades, there will be three smaller brigades that will comprise a reserve force, there will be three Pesh brigades that will help contain from the north and isolate from the west, and then there will be what we’re calling a Mosul fighting force, which will be compromised of largely police and tribal that are being put together right now of mostly former Mosul police, and then finally, a brigade equivalent of CTS forces.”
The official also went into detail about the training schedules for five brigades to take part in the attack, yet estimated “it’s going to take about 12 brigade equivalents to execute the Mosul operation, and we still kind of stand to that.”
McCain and Graham wrote a letter to Obama today calling it “deeply disturbing” that the CENTOM briefing “provided detailed operational information regarding coalition plans to retake Mosul from ISIL.”
“Never in our memory can we recall an instance in which our military has knowingly briefed our own war plans to our enemies,” added McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Graham, a member of the panel.
“These disclosures not only risk the success of our mission, but could also cost the lives of U.S., Iraqi, and coalition forces,” they continued. “Given the serious impact of these disclosures, we want to know who at U.S. Central Command was responsible for this briefing, and whether they had prior approval from the White House to divulge this information. Those responsible have jeopardized our national security interests and must be held accountable.”