The Obama Administration’s protestations that the ISIS war isn’t being lost have rang more and more hollow recently, what with all the losing going on. Today, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter tried to shift the narrative, blaming the Iraqi military for the recent string of defeats.
“They vastly outnumbered the opposing force and yet they failed to fight and withdrew,” Carter said of the Iraqi military’s loss to ISIS in Ramadi, adding that he believes US airstrikes have been effective, but that the Iraqis just won’t defend themselves.
While Carter aimed to present this as some sort of new problem, it’s actually been a constant struggle for Iraq’s military. Equipped with high-end US gear but with sinking morale and questionable levels of training, they’ve often fled when faced with significant ISIS forces.
Carter went on to suggest the US might have to “change the kinds of support we give” to the Iraqis based on their inability to fight ISIS, while other officials are pushing for more aggressive arming of Sunni forces as well as Kurdish Peshmerga.
The Iraqi military, for its part, is seeking more aid from Shi’ite militias, which have proven more effective at fighting ISIS but have fueled a lot of sectarian tension with their violent crackdowns on Sunni locals in retaken cities. The military claimed to have retaken a town near Ramadi from ISIS, with those militia, and an influx of reinforcements, though predictions of retaking Ramadi itself, as usual, seem woefully optimistic.