In a move Pentagon officials are calling a significant test of their new training program, some 3,000 US-trained Iraqi troops are taking up positions around Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar Province, and preparing for an attack on the major ISIS-held city.
Officials say this is the “first time” US-trained soldiers will be taking on ISIS in such a major clash, though that’s not really true, since the US trained the bulk of Iraq’s military during last decade’s occupation in the first place, and those troops were the ones ISIS routed in taking so much of the country’s west.
It’s not all that clear how different the new training is from the old training, which didn’t work, and it remains to be seen if the Iraqi troops will fare any better this time than they did before, when they had even larger numerical superiority and were defending Ramadi from ISIS.
One difference, however, is that some 500 Sunni tribesmen will be taking part in the battle on Iraq’s side. The US has tried to convince large numbers of Sunnis to back the Shi’ite dominated government, but deadly sectarian purges by the government’s Shi’ite militia allies have alienated many.