SOUTHWEST ASIA — More than two years ago, ISIS stormed across Iraq and Syria and introduced a new level of brutality and terrorism to the world. Today, Iraqi security forces, backed by the U.S. led coalition, have reversed the ISIS onslaught and are on the verge of reclaiming their country.
Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve commander and senior commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, has praised Iraqi security forces for their progress in Iraq.
“If you look back just a little over two years ago, this army was broken and defeated and barely able to hold their capital when they asked the coalition, the world for assistance,” said Townsend to reporters in Baghdad.
That army has completed this remarkable turnaround in just two years and now they’re running a multi-divisional operation involving 40,000 or 50,000 Iraqi security forces up around Mosul 400 kilometers from their capital and their logistics base.
“It is an incredible turnaround. They’ve liberated approaching half of their lost territory and they are about to liberate their second-largest city, the largest population city center held by ISIS anywhere in the world,” Townsend said.
He was referring to the large-scale offensive to retake the west side of Mosul.
“The Iraqi security forces are going to take that city back, no doubt about it. I think that's a remarkable achievement,” Townsend continued.
As ISIS nears its defeat in Iraq, many of the U.S. service members supporting the global effort to defeat ISIS known as Operation Inherent Resolve are from Fort Bragg.
In all, more than 2,000 Fort Bragg paratroopers, Soldiers, and special operators are deployed in support of operations against ISIS.
The XVIII Abn. Corps leads CJTF - OIR, the 60-plus nation task force assembled to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
About 450 XVIII Abn. Corps paratroopers deployed in August on a year-long assignment to Kuwait and Iraq to lead the mission to train, equip and to enable Iraqi security forces. This includes advising and assisting their leadership and providing intelligence and lethal strikes against military targets.
While the Corps oversees the counter-ISIS effort, paratroopers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division are working directly with Iraqi security force troops on the ground as they advance on west Mosul, the self-proclaimed capital and the last major population center controlled by ISIS in Iraq.
The Falcon Brigade is playing a critical role, advising and assisting Iraqi security force commanders and providing Iraqi maneuver elements with critical artillery support.
Several other units from Fort Bragg are also contributing to the campaign.
The 525th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, 16th Military Police Brigade, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, 44th Medical Brigade, and others all have Soldiers deployed in the military effort against ISIS.
As home to America's Contingency Corps, Fort Bragg remains in a constant state of readiness to support the fight against ISIS or anywhere else in the world.
“Just about every XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg unit are involved, or has played a role since this campaign started,” said Col. Tim Watson, Task Force Dragon chief of staff.
“The units and Soldiers at Fort Bragg are making great contributions against this world-wide threat. This is a testament to our Soldiers, Families and the Fort Bragg community.”