Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kirby: Mosul Dam Operation Not ‘Mission Creep’



 
By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2014 – The partnership between U.S., Iraqi and Peshmerga forces was critical to the success of the operation to retake the Mosul Dam from Sunni terrorists, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

The operation was a team effort, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said. “I also would -- at the same time -- point to the courage, the bravery, the skill of both the Kurdish forces and Iraqi forces and their extensive cooperation with one another in conducting this operation,” he said.

There were no U.S. troops involved in the ground operation, Kirby noted, which was supported by U.S. airstrikes.  They continued today with two additional airstrikes carried out near the dam, one destroying an ISIL checkpoint, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. 

Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue to hold the dam, he said. Iraq’s largest; it provides water, electricity and flood control for Mosul’s 1.7 million residents.

The dam’s location and precarious condition meant that its possession by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces posed a threat to U.S. personnel and facilities in Baghdad. If the dam were to fail or be sabotaged, the resulting damage would rise to the level of a humanitarian disaster, defense officials have said.

Charges that U.S. involvement in the retaking of Mosul Dam represents mission creep are wrong, Kirby said.

“Mission creep refers to the growth or expansion of the goals and objectives of a military operation -- that the goals and objectives change, morph into something bigger than they were at the outset,” he explained.

“... Nothing has changed about the missions that we're conducting inside Iraq. ... Airstrikes are authorized under two mission areas -- humanitarian assistance and the protection of U.S. personnel and facilities,” the admiral said.

The airstrikes in and around Mosul Dam fit into both of those categories, he said.

“We believed that, should the dam remain in control of ISIL -- whose intentions are obviously not perfectly clear and certainly not in the best interests of the people of Iraq -- if that dam was to blow or they were to open and flood the gates, that it could have an effect as far south as Baghdad.”

A 2009 paper by Mosul University geologists estimated that up to 54 percent of Mosul would be under a maximum of 83 feet of water if the dam was to fail.

“The missions are clear,” Kirby said. “The operations that we're conducting are inside the authorizations for those missions. And we're going to continue to be vigilant going forward. And if there is a need for more airstrikes in conjunction with either of those two mission areas, those two authorizations, we'll conduct them.”


Pentagon Describes Anti-ISIL Operations in Iraq



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2014 – The U.S. military used fighters, bombers, attack, and unmanned aircraft to conduct 35 strikes that eliminated ISIL positions in and around the Mosul Dam complex, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement released yesterday.

Kirby’s statement reads as follows:

Over the past 72 hours, at the request of the Iraqi government, the U.S. military used fighters, bombers, attack, and unmanned aircraft to conduct 35 strikes that eliminated ISIL positions in and around the Mosul Dam complex. In all, we destroyed over 90 targets including a range of vehicles, equipment, and fighting positions. Iraqi forces have cleared the dam and are working to further expand their area of control. Secretary Hagel remains extraordinarily proud of the men and women serving on land

and sea who conducted these operations. He knows they stand ready to continue such missions as needed. Secretary Hagel also commends the way in which Iraqi forces worked together in this operation. It reflects the growing determination of Iraqis to fight back against ISIL.

Monday, August 18, 2014

U.S. Conducts More Airstrikes Near the Mosul Dam



From a U.S. Central Command News Release

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 18, 2014 – U.S. Conducts More Airstrikes Near the Mosul Dam

From a U.S. Central Command News Release

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 18, 2014 — U.S. military forces today continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq, using a mix of fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft to successfully conduct 15 airstrikes near the Mosul Dam.

The strikes damaged or destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions; an ISIL checkpoint; six ISIL armed vehicles; an ISIL light armored vehicle; an ISIL vehicle-mounted anti-aircraft artillery gun, and an IED emplacement belt.

All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 68 airstrikes in Iraq. Of those 68 strikes, 35 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam. These strikes were conducted under authority to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces as they work together to combat ISIL, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts.

Security of Mosul Dam Critical to Iraq’s Infrastructure



By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2014 – U.S. Central Command forces have conducted a total of 68 targeted airstrikes in Iraq since Aug. 8, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

The majority of strikes have been directed at setting the conditions for Iraqi security forces to retake the Mosul Dam from terrorist forces aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Army Col. Steve Warren said.

U.S. aircraft have executed 35 airstrikes in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam, according to a U.S. Central Command news release.

“These strikes were conducted under authority to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces as they work together to combat ISIL, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts,” the release said.

The attacks are aimed at preventing ISIL forces from receiving reinforcements, Warren said, as well as reducing their defenses. This “will allow [Iraqi security forces] to conduct maneuvers around the dam,” he explained.

No U.S. military personnel were involved in the ground operations, the colonel said. “We do have U.S military overhead in these aircraft that are conducting airstrikes and of course in our [joint operation centers],” Warren said.

The Mosul Dam captures the flow of the Tigris River, providing flood control, water and electricity to Mosul’s 1.7 million residents. First opened in 1986, it is the fourth-largest in the Middle East.

“If the Mosul Dam were to fail, that would lead to a humanitarian disaster,” Warren said.

And failure is a real concern, he added.

The dam’s location was “chosen for reasons other than geologic or engineering merit,” according to a 2007 report by the Army Corps of Engineers.

While the report found that the dam itself was well-constructed, the underlying geology is a cause for “intense concern about the safety of the structure.” The dam’s bedrock foundation consists of water-soluble rocks, such as gypsum, marl and limestone, and the presence of the dam’s reservoir is hastening subsurface dissolution.

The geologic conditions under the dam necessitate “extraordinary engineering measures to maintain the structural integrity and operating capability of the dam,” the report said.

A constant program of maintenance is needed to ensure the dam is not undermined, which could unleash a floodwall that would travel southward down the Tigris River valley all the way to Baghdad, nearly 300 miles away.

A letter sent by President Barack Obama to Congress yesterday said the dam’s failure would endanger the lives of large numbers of civilians, U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace.

Warren said he was unsure how long it would take to secure the dam from ISIL forces.

“We don't have a time line; it's really conditions-based... The operation will continue as long as it is required to achieve success,” he said.

US, Poland train for humanitarian missions to Iraq

by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs


8/18/2014 - POWIDZ AIR BASE, Poland -- Partnering with U.S. Air Force Airmen deployed to Powidz Air Base, Poland, loadmasters from both nations began training together, Aug. 11, to sharpen the skills necessary for Polish airmen to conduct humanitarian missions to Iraq.

"We want to be on the same page," said Polish Sierż (Sgt.) Hieronim Chabras, 33rd Transportation Air Base C-130E loadmaster. "It is good to go over this training together before a mission like this."

The joint training was especially beneficial to the Airmen deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. To date, U.S. military aircraft have delivered more than 27,000 gallons of fresh drinking water and nearly 100,000 meals to the displaced and endangered Iraqi people. The C-130's, flown by both Polish and American forces, are uniquely suited to handle the mass container delivery airdrops meant to alleviate the suffering in Iraq.

"Mass container delivery airdrops are one of the most effective ways to deliver combat and non-combat supplies and equipment," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Chelsea Sirmans, 86th Operational Support Squadron joint airdrop inspector. "It's how we get the bullets, beans and bandages to the people who need them most, as quickly as possible."

The loadmasters came together to ensure both parties were as proficient as possible on their particular model of C-130. The Polish Air Force spent time brushing up on the technical specifications of the C-130E Hercules; while the U.S. Air Force compared and contrasted the operational procedures of the E-model with the C-130J Super Hercules.

"We just helped each other clarify a few things we already knew," said Sirmans. "In a situation like the one the Polish will be flying into, you want to be 100 percent proficient and supremely confident in your aircraft and your skills."

With the situation in Iraq growing more intense, the decision to act is not only welcome, it is essential - according to Christof Heyns, U.S. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

"We cannot stand by in the face of such atrocities," Heyns said in an interview. "International actors must do all in their power to support those on the ground with the capacity to protect lives."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Airstrikes Continue Against ISIL Near Mosul Dam



From a U.S. Central Command News Release

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2014 – U.S. Central Command forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Iraq today near the Mosul Dam using a mix of fighter, bomber, attack and remotely piloted aircraft.

Centcom conducted these strikes under authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces who are working together to combat ISIL.

The 14 strikes conducted on Sunday in Iraq damaged or destroyed ten ISIL armed vehicles, seven ISIL Humvees, two ISIL armored personnel carriers and one ISIL checkpoint. These strikes are in addition to the nine U.S. airstrikes announced yesterday by Centcom.

All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.