--Washington, D.C.--Commanders of the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria are planning to depart from using purely counterinsurgency tecniques and instead use a range of combat techniques in the upcoming attack upon Mosul - to include Iraqi Security Forces' use of traditional heavy "Combine Arms Maneuver" tactics, US ground fires support and potential use of US Apache attack helicopters from the air.
The combat strategy is part of an ongoing “intensification” of attacks against the Muslim extremist group through U.S. or coalition ground attacks, stepped up aerial bombardment or heavier training of the Iraqi Security Forces.
With many asking the question about whether larger numbers of U.S. soldiers will wind up engaging in ground combat with ISIS – a concern among many – it is a scenario US Commanders have not ruled out.
US Commanders have said the coalition is considering various combat contingencies or scenarios and plans under consideration. At one point the spokesm for Operation Inherent Resolve said “I’d like the enemy to find out about our plans for the first time when the area around them is filling up with smoke. Surprise is an under-appreciated principle of war.”
The decision about which option to “accelerate” is chosen for the U.S. Coalition will be made by President Obama.
Training Iraqi Forces for Heavier Warfare
The U.S. Coalition has been shifting its training focus with the Iraqi Security Forces from a counterinsurgency emphasis to a combined arms approach as a way to take on and destroy ISIS’ conventional forces.
Counterinsurgency training focuses on asymmetrical dynamics such as small raids, knocking down doors, looking for enemy fighters among civilian populations and attacking small groups of enemies on the move or in dug-in locations.
Combined Arms, by contrast, involves a more traditional type of combat approach designed to win more linear mechanized, force-on-force heavy combat. "Combined Arms Maneuver" approaches, which often use tanks, artillery and armored vehicles, seek to bring numerous weapons to bear upon an enemy as part of a simultaneous integrated conventional attack.
ISIS in known to have armored vehicles and operate as both a terrorist insurgent force and conventional force in some respects. As a result, having ISF forces able to attack ISIS aggressively with both techniques could prove invaluable to future offensive efforts.
Combined Arms Maneuver could quite possibly better help destroy ISIS troop fortifications,buildings, fires locations and forces on the move.
Despite the success ISF forces recently had during the attack to retake Ramadi from ISIS, Iraqi Security Forces may request addition ground fire support from the US Military such as 155mm artillery fire - which can reach targets with precion rounds from up to 30 kilometers away - and longer range rocket weapons fired from a US fire base such ast HIMARS, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. Mosul is a much stronger ISIS stronghold than Iraqi Security Forces have attacked so far.
US Commanders have praised the growing aggressiveness, fighting vigor and combat success of the Iraqi Security Forces – who have recently made substantial gains on the ground against ISIS.
Coalition forces have trained more than 17,500 Iraqi soldiers and about 2,000 police since training began slightly more than a year ago, he said. And more than 3,000 soldiers and police are in coalition training sites.
US leaders belive the Iraqi Security Forces have the ability to defeat the enemy in open battle and push ISIS out of Iraq.
ISF and Kurdish Peshmerga forces are preparing to take back Mosul from ISIS.
Despite recent ISF successes, however, ISIS still has an ability to launch counter-attacks, as evidenced by the recent incursion into ISF-held territory.
Fight Against ISIS in Syria
Calling the fight against ISIS in Syria a more “complex” problem set, Pentaton leaders say progress against ISIS there might prove to be a longer term effort. There is not a cohesive, organized single ISIS opposition force in Syria as there is in Iraq with the ISF. As a result, gains on the ground can, at times, be harder to come by. That being said, MacFarland did emphasize that the overall trend of the attacks against ISIS in Syria was going in the right direction.
Combat is ongoing in areas outside of Raqqa along the Euphrates river where anti-ISIS forces have been making combat gains, US Coalition leaders said.