UNION III, Baghdad –
As Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve transitions away from troops with a combat role, the Military Advisory Group (MAG) is key, working hand-in-hand with Iraqi forces to advise, assist, and enable their capabilities in the enduring defeat of Daesh.
“The MAG consists of members from several coalition nations that are aligned at Union III in Baghdad, in Erbil with the Peshmerga Forces, all at the senior operational level,” said Brig. Gen. Nick Ducich, CJTF-OIR MAG director. “Our focus is to advise, assist, and enable Iraq’s Security Forces to further synchronize intelligence-driven operations against Daesh across greater Iraq.”
One of the MAG’s main tools is an operational-level advisory element that resides in the Iraqi Security Forces’ Joint Operations Command-Iraq (JOC-I) facility. This group represents more than ten Iraqi divisions and security enterprise entities, and coordinates with the operational commands within each province. The element advises the JOC-I on warfighting functions such as intelligence operations, sustainment and mass communication efforts.
“Our advisory element is the main point of engagement across the JOC-I spectrum and that’s what makes the MAG so unique in the overall CJTF mission,” said Ducich.
The advisory element is predominately comprised of coalition partners, which brings perspectives of different nations whose support and individual perspectives lend critical insights toward the mission.
"Their daily successes and seeing the continued extension in the forces' operational reach shows me the overall vision for the MAG is working," said Ducich of partner forces. "We can see the forces naturally progressing to a point where our level of advisement means improved performance and execution with greater efficiency and effects."
A recent mission by the Iraqi Air Force demonstrated such ability, conducting 25 airstrikes in Wadi al-Shai, Kirkuk, and destroying five Daesh hideouts, according to Gen. Yehia Rasool, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Security Forces. This was a product of the JOC-I Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance targeting capabilities – another function with which the advisory element assists.
Along with advising Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Security Forces operations, the MAG’s group of sustainment personnel advisors help partners create a long-term sustainment picture for the mission; what resources they require to enable the enduring defeat of Daesh. The group’s efforts encompass maintenance and logistical support for any type of operation, as well as support the divestment process within the Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF) to increase the forces’ durability, survivability, and lethality.
The CTEF program is a major component in expediting the ISF’s capabilities and operational reach.
Supplying partners with critical items, ranging from small arms ammunition to larger vehicles and engineer equipment, prepares them for Iraq’s unique terrain set, and wherever the battlefield may take them.
“Recently, we participated in the Peshmerga logistical warehouse distribution of over 150 vehicles to several brigades,” said Ducich. “This was an excellent example of how the Counter-ISIS Train and Equip fund makes an impact -- seeing the pride of the Peshmerga drivers in formation as they got into their new vehicles and drove towards their bases showed how much of a difference the CTEF makes.”
The establishment of Joint Brigades, slated for the coming months, will be a milestone moment, said Ducich. Iraqi and Kurdish forces will partner together in one cohesive force, deploying along Iraq’s Kurdish Coordination Line, which is hundreds of kilometers long.
“This is significant terrain, and we’re on the verge of a milestone,” Ducich said. “Our partners have agreed to formalize this concept, where two Iraqi Army Brigades will fight side-by-side with two Peshmerga Brigades. This force will go after the seams where the enemy operates, greatly increasing the security of Iraq and throughout the region, defeating the remnants of Daesh.”
By assisting, advising, and enabling, the MAG empowers the ISF and KSF to be a security generator for Iraq.
“We advise, assist and enable our partners to maintain the defeat of Daesh,” said Ducich. “We share our success in that one mission, and my measure of success for the MAG is the success of the ISF and KSF.”