An army of 100.000 combat troops must be built to defeat Islamic State
Every day that passes in the bitter battle for territory in Kurdistan and elsewhere in Iraq, the inadequacy of the US-led coalition forces’ response to the challenge posed by Islamic State (ISIS) becomes increasingly obvious. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraqi central government have become deeply alarmed that ISIS terrorists have been able to enter the outskirts of Erbil and Baghdad, despite regular airstrikes by coalition warplanes. In excess of 950 airstrikes have been launched inside Iraq, since; Erbil was briefly threatened last summer. The situation on the ground, is that the Kurdish Peshmerga are bravely fight- ing off the heavy Islamist offensives exposing the urgent need for a well-equipped and highly trained ground force to identify and destroy ISIS. The KRG and US-led coalitions war on terror could go on for many years, unless a 100,000 strong ground force, consisting of Peshmerga, Iraqi army and US-led coalition forces combat troops, must be assembled in order to defeat ISIS. The ISIS fighters have quickly adapted on how to conceal themselves from air strikes which has reduced the damage to them and even with modern technology, the coalition forces war planes can’t be everywhere in order to strike every potential ISIS position. Similarly, according to British Ministry of Defence, war planes have come back not dropped anything because they can’t find decent targets, yet we know they are there. The security of the Kurdistan region and of Iraq as a whole, has been transformed. ISIS terrorists now control virtually the whole of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland, from the Syrian border to the outskirts of Baghdad. ISIS's advance exposed appalling weakness in an Iraqi army; strong on paper but very weak in reality. The Iraqi army's sudden retreat left a vacuum along the Kurdistan region's border with the rest of Iraq, which the Peshmerga rushed to fill immediately. As a result, KRG finds itself in control of swathes of territory disputed with Iraqi central government over many years, including the Kurdish city of Kirkuk, but the price of these gains is a treacherous 1050 kilometer frontier with ISIS terrorists. However, the tide could be turned against ISIS if the US, UK and its allies including Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi army focused on building and supporting a reliable trained and well equipped 100,000 strong ground force.
*Security and Studies
University of Buckingham