JUST KIDDING: Pentagon Cancels Major Attack on Islamic State

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No wonder Netanyahu is so concerned.

The U.S. military’s goal to retake Iraq’s second largest city from the self-proclaimed Islamic State has been pushed back several months at least, defense officials told The Daily Beast. That’s a major shift for the Pentagon, which recently announced that the first major ground offensive in the war against ISIS could come in the next few weeks.

Defense officials once hoped that Iraqi troops could move into Mosul by the Spring and reclaim the city from ISIS. Now, those officials say, Fall is more realistic. And even that date was tenuous.

“It is an Iraqi decision but we don’t want to do anything until they are ready and can win decisively,” a military official explained to the Daily Beast. “They cannot now.”

It’s another sign that the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS isn’t going nearly as smoothly as the American government had hoped. At the Pentagon Friday, Defense Department spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby shied away from any kind of timeline, saying: “I can’t put a date certain…nor say April is out.”

Rather, he suggested that the Iraqi forces were not imminently ready for such an offensive.

“I don’t think we are there yet,” Kirby said. “There are gaps and seams that need to be closed.”

A group within U.S. government pushed for a Spring offensive out of concern that the next opportunity to launch such a campaign would not be until the Fall. But these policymakers appeared to have been trumped by those fearing that Iraqi forces are nowhere near ready.

The shift away from the Spring began in the last few days, in part because officials could not agree publicly about whether the Iraqi forces would be ready for the fight. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that it would be “six to nine months, best estimate,” before Iraqi forces could be able to launch a major counteroffensive against ISIS.

“It is an Iraqi decision but we don’t want to do anything until they are ready and can win decisively,” a military official explained to the Daily Beast. “They cannot now.”
“When we talk about the six to nine months additional training, it is to deal with an urban fight, which is very, very different, very complex, requires a great deal of skill, great deal of precision to be successful,” Stewart said.

The timeline is expected to come up publicly again Tuesday when Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Dempsey isn’t expected to address the timeline for such an offensive directly. Rather, he’ll argue against the potential “rush to failure,” as one defense official explained.

Read more: thedailybeast.com

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