Islamic State’s ‘So-Called Caliphate’ Is Crumbling, Says 82nd Airborne Brigade Commander
When Iraqi forces and their partners from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division arrived in western Mosul earlier this year, they found an enemy that had been preparing for them.
The Islamic State was clinging to Iraq’s second-largest city, said Col. J. Patrick Work, the commander of the 2nd Brigade. They had prepared their defenses for almost two years.
“It was a defense that any army would have a hard time penetrating,” he said.
U.S. Army Sgt. Kurt Komyati and U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Randolph Delapena, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, clear their M4 rifles at a range on Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, June 10, 2017.
Obstacles were placed around the city, meant to stop or slow the advancing Iraqi troops. There was an extensive network of car bombs and massive amounts of mortar and artillery firepower – enough that ISIS could fire at least 200 rounds a day. At times, ISIS fighters used low-grade chemical weapons, attacking military and civilian targets indiscriminately.
Work, speaking less than a month after the 2nd Brigade returned from the Middle East, said that ISIS was no easy target, even as their territory in Mosul shrank.
Nimble and centralized command and control allowed ISIS to move quickly. The enemy adapted quickly to Iraqi tactics.
Work said the Iraqi soldiers and their American advisers adapted with them.
When ISIS launched small drones to drop grenades on Iraqi positions, the Iraqis adopted better camouflage and began watching for the machines.
Eventually, Iraqi and U.S. troops began knocking down the drones before they could do any damage, then began sending the drones – and their payloads – back to ISIS fighters or using them to trace the locations of ISIS control centers.
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