The State Department’s new spokesman, fresh from a tenure as the Pentagon’s spokesman, said it doesn’t do much good to look back on the fall of Ramadi — less than a month ago, on May 17.
John Kirby told CNN that President Obama, who told reporters at the G-7 summit yesterday “we don’t yet have a complete strategy” to fight ISIS with Iraq, was referring to the fact that “the train and equip strategy isn’t complete yet, because there still needs to be some commitments from the Iraqi side.”
“You still — you need trainees, you need more trainees, and we’re working with them on that. I think that’s what he was referring to,” Kirby said. “But, look, make no mistake, we have been training literally hundreds of Iraqi troops and units to get out there in the field and fight. And those that we have trained and helped and equipped have done well out there. Doesn’t mean it’s perfect, doesn’t mean there’s still not more work to do. And, again, that’s what I think the president was referring to.”
But on the fall of Ramadi… well, don’t think too much about that.
“Well, certainly there were issues there in Ramadi. And I don’t want to — I don’t think it’s going to be much value revisiting the recent past there,” Kirby said. “Everybody knows that things didn’t go in Ramadi the way we would have liked them to go, the way the Iraqis wouldn’t have liked them to go. Our focus is on the future now.”
“Again, we’re going to have to keep working with the Iraqi government to get this train and equip program more robust, more aggressive, and to keep help performing — help increasing the performance, the competence of Iraqi security forces out there in the field.”
When the Iraqi army is “trained, equipped, well led, well resourced, they are very brave and they can be very brave and they can perform very well,” Kirby said.
“And while we’re all fixated on Ramadi, and I understand that, there are other places in Iraq where they have, in conjunction with other forces, have been able to push back ISIL, retake territory, and hold it, sustain their gains,” he said.
“Doesn’t mean they’re going to do that every time, doesn’t mean there’s not going to be give and take, doesn’t mean there won’t be defeats. But the simple facts of the matter is, over the last nine, ten months, they have shown the capacity and the capability to do this. They just need the support. And, again, we’re all committed to helping provide that support.”