Top Commander: Islamic State Isn’t Making ‘Major Advances’ in Iraq

By Meredith Dake
Posted June 5, 2015 at 7:36pm
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Combined Forces Air Component Commander Lt. Gen. John W. Hesterman III briefed the press Friday over the current state of play with the Islamic State terror group and Iraq. Hesterman said reports of IS making significant advances in the country are overplayed, and said, “The young men and women risking their lives each day… are superb, and they’re very effective. And they’re giving Iraq the time they need … to execute all the lines of efforts that are gonna be necessary to finish this.” Read the transcript below, via : You’re very bullish about the effectiveness of air power, yet, again, the narrative in Washington and in many places around the world is they’re bombing them heavy, but ISIS is still making major advances around the country. Can you square that circle, please? Yeah, well, I don’t think they’re making major advances around the country. I think every now and again, they make a tactical advance and then we play it like a strategic, you know, victory, and it’s not. So the fact of the matter is, this enemy was out parading itself around. They took over a large part of Iraq in just a couple of days. But, let’s be clear about something here. Let me talk about the comparisons that are being made, because I think, frankly, that’s one of the reasons I’m talking to you. The comparisons being made to conflicts against fielded (ph) armies in nation states don’t apply in this case. And the folks making them, frankly, haven’t been in a fight like the one we’re in now. This enemy wrapped itself around a friendly population before we even started. There is no, and never has been, a well-developed target set for that, which is necessary to do what we’ve done in the past. And I can say that with a little bit of authority, because I either participated in or was well-familiar with this for about the last 32 years. With this enemy, we have to be available 24/7 with coalition airpower, differentiate them from the population and go after them every time we find them. It’s an order of magnitude more difficult than what we’ve done before, but we’re doing it. And Daesh’s leadership and their lines of communication and their equipment are all at an increasing risk. And I will tell you, the young men and women risking their lives each day from many nations and every service are superb, and they’re very effective. And they’re giving Iraq the time they need and friendly nations the time they need to execute all the lines of efforts that are gonna be necessary to finish this.