The latest in military technology and the addition of up to
450 more U.S. troops announced yesterday will enhance the U.S.-led coalition’s
efforts to enable ground forces in the campaign to defeat Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant terrorism in Iraq and Syria, the deputy commander for operations
and intelligence for Operation Inherent Resolve told Pentagon reporters today.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, who’s responsible for
planning, coordinating, synchronizing and executing Inherent Resolve combat
operations in Iraq and Syria, briefed the media from Baghdad via teleconference
on recent campaign momentum against ISIL.
The additional troops being sent to support the effort will
advise and assist Iraqi and Syrian counter-ISIL ground forces “to continue to
fracture and degrade the enemy,” Gersten said.
Latest Technology Enhances Campaign
The accelerated campaign to defeat ISIL now includes B-52
bombers, additional cyber capabilities and the Army’s High-Mobility Artillery
Rocket System, Gersten said.
With the recent addition of the B-52 Stratofortress to the
coalition air campaign’s arsenal, it is important to clear up any
“misperceptions” surrounding the
bomber’s capabilities, he said, noting that today’s B-52 has more
capabilities than B-52 bombers used during 1960s and 1970s.
The new Stratofortress is “a highly upgraded B-52 [with] an
extraordinary platform that strikes with the same accuracy and precision that
every other coalition asset has struck in the recent past,” he said.
Gersten emphasized that “a lot of discussion” surrounds the
approval process for airstrike operations in a combat zone. “As the general
officer responsible for synchronizing all combat operations in this theater, I
can assure you that we do everything possible to mitigate the loss of civilian
life and minimize collateral damage as we engage this enemy,” he said.
Cyber Capabilities in Combat
At the very high end of the combat operations spectrum, the
coalition has begun to use its “exquisite cyber capabilities” in the fight
against ISIL” the general said. Cyber is a standing capability, he added, and
is “just another precision arrow in our arsenal, aimed directly at the heart of
the … enemy.”
HIMARS to Counter ISIL
Two separate Army High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems --
also known as HIMARS -- will be used in Turkey to support counter-ISIL
operations in Syria, while the second will support Iraq’s counter operations,
Gersten said. As a mobile and “very agile” system, he added, it will be exactly
where the military needs it to be at any given time. It will work in
combination with coalition air assets, he said.
The coalition is working closely with its strong Turkish
partners on HIMARS operations, the general said. “The HIMARS is simply one of
many systems the coalition is bringing to fight this enemy,” he added. “We have
fighters, we have remotely piloted aircraft, we have cyber, and now we have
The U.S.-led coalition will “bring everything to bear
against this enemy, wherever it presents itself,” Gersten said.
(Follow Terri Moon
Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)