A former military planner in Iraq said that Baghdad has a right to react indignantly to Washington’s suggestions that they ran away from Ramadi in the face of the ISIS assault.
“What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told CNN in an interview aired Sunday. “They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight, they withdrew from the site, and 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.”
Lt. Col. Douglas Ollivant (Ret.), who served on the National Security Council under presidents George W. Bush and Obama, told PBS “there are clearly problems with the Iraqi army; they need to be addressed, but the counterpoint is also true.”
“The Iraqi army was in Ramadi for a year-and-a-half and did fight off the Islamic State there for a year-and-a-half, and, if we’re to believe the accounts, really were at the receiving end of a well-planned, well-executed attack by the Islamic State that involved a number of very, very large explosive car bombs, some of which were said to be the size of those in the Oklahoma City bombing, literally kind of leveling blocks or at least large buildings, an assault that any military force would have a hard time with,” Ollivant said.
“So there is some truth to what the secretary is saying, but at the same time, the indignation on the part of the Iraqis is very valid. Some of these soldiers have fought very well.”
Ollivant acknowledged that the Iraqi troops have received support from the United States in terms of training, but rumors persist that soldiers have not been paid by the Iraqi government.
He opined that the Iraqis can take back Ramadi in four to eight weeks, similar to Tikrit.
“The Iraqi forces that were in Ramadi didn’t have the anti-tank missiles that they needed to stop these vehicle-borne, these explosive car bombs from attacking their positions. It wouldn’t hurt to have more unarmed surveillance drones. If we were to push those, then the Iranians wouldn’t have to provide them. That’s a way for us to kind of use a chess move against the Iranian influence in Iraq, which we do need to be concerned about,” Ollivant said.
“So there are a series of things we can do, but essentially it’s more of what we’re doing, more training, more equipping, more intelligence support.”
ISIS captured an injured Iraqi Army soldier who has ran out of ammo, torture & parade him in Fallujah then hang him! pic.twitter.com/JXqGXnqWMi
— Iraq Live Update (@IraqLiveUpdate) May 26, 2015
— Iraqism (@Iraqism) May 26, 2015