Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Col. Derek Harvey | Ashton Carter | Ramadi | Iraq | ISIS | fight

Col. Harvey: Carter's Comments on Iraq Were 'Unfortunate'

By    |   Monday, 25 May 2015 10:56 PM

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's comments on Sunday that the Iraqi city of Ramadi fell because of the Iraqi army's reluctance to fight was "unfortunate," Col. Derek Harvey, a former senior intelligence officer and adviser to Gen. David Petraeus told Newsmax Monday.

"It is not exactly an explanation of a very complex situation," Harvey said. Instead, the loss came because the Islamic State (ISIS) was able to overmatch weary Iraqi forces that have been fighting the threat for some sixteen months.

The Iraqi troops, said Harvey, did not have the equipment to fight the militants, nor the guidance that could have helped them defend Ramadi, one of Iraq's major cities.

"The U.S. strategy and lines of operation for the most part have been poorly resourced both in theater and at the interagency level right here in Washington D.C.," Harvey said. "The timing and urgency to provide arms, equipment and training is insufficient."

However, he continued that he does not see either the urgency or resources in "Treasury, the intelligence community or in other national-level agencies to organize, reorient and realign to go after ISIS. It is too much business as usual."

And even though the officer believes that U.S.-led airstrikes have complicated the ISIS operations, the air campaign still has not been decisive as it has been small and limited in effect, but "the Islamic State has been adaptive and creative" in response.

Carter's statements reflect poorly on him, Harvey said Monday, as "the story of Ramadi is more complex than this simple allegation that the ISF did not have the will to fight."

The Iraqis, said Harvey, have fought ISIS for 16 months, and its emergency response units "were exhausted," and he believes they were "improperly employed out there, which took away from their advantages."

Further, ISIS achieved surprise and mass at the points of attack, said Harvey and "the overmatch tactically and operationally achieved by ISIS overwhelmed localized defenses."

Still others were either short of or had run out of ammunition, he continued, and some of the troops "did just flee, and too much equipment was left behind."

Having better supplies and anti-tank weaponry would also have helped, and "commanders higher up could have done much more earlier on to provide more capability."

"The United States Air Force was basically a non-factor at the critical points," said Harvey, who wondered what happened to the call for advisors and intelligence.

Further, ISIS remains "well-armed and well-resourced with an effective command and control to synchronize operations across both Syria and Iraq," Harvey told Newsmax. However, the United States' lines of operation, including training and building the Iraqi army, "appear disjointed, poorly resourced and lack an effective framework to bring it all together."

This means there has been some local progress, but "this strategy is fundamentally flawed, and the U.S. is not only failing but risks losing this war, making Iraq a client state of Tehran and empowering Iran at the same time."

On Sunday, in an unusually candid interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Carter commented that the takeover showed Iraqi forces lack the "will to fight" and pulled back from the central Iraq city.

"They were not outnumbered," Carter told CNN's Barbara Starr. "In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight, they withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."

Carter went on to say that while the United States can provide training and weapons in the fight against ISIS, but not the will itself to wage war.

Harvey told Newsmax TV earlier this month that the United States is the side that has yet to prove that it is "serious" about fighting ISIS and that it has yet to build an effective coalition.

The U.S., he believes, needs to direct operations on the ground in both Syria and Iraq and go after the ISIS affiliates expanding into other nations, like Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.

On Monday, Iraq rejected Carter's accusations, with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi saying he was surprised at the assessment.

"I'm surprised why he said that," Abadi told The BBC. "I mean, he was very supportive of Iraq. I am sure he was fed with the wrong information."

Abadi said his forces were stunned by ISIS shock tactics, and insisted that "they have the will to fight, but when they are faced with an onslaught by [ISIS] from nowhere... with armored trucks packed with explosives, the effect of them is like a small nuclear bomb. It gives a very very bad effect on our forces."

The prime minister said it "makes my heart bleed" that Ramadi was lost, "but I can assure you we can bring it back soon."

Ahmed al-Assadi, the spokesman of the Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization for Shiite militia and volunteers, which Abadi called upon after Ramadi fell, was also angry about Carter's comments.

"This lack of will the U.S. defense secretary mentioned is how the enemies of Iraq have tried to depict the Iraqi security forces," he told AFP.

Further, an Iraqi military commander called Carter's comments "a provocation to the Iraqi army and Iraqi people designed to make people lose their trust in the army," the AFP reports, noting the Iraqi government has vowed to investigate the retreat and punish "recalcitrant" troops.

Also on Sunday, a senior Iranian general involved in the fight against ISIS insisted  the United States has done "nothing" to help Iraq's army battle jihadists in Ramadi.

Qassem Suleimani, the Revolutionary Guards' commander of foreign operations, hit out at Washington after Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said Iraqi forces "failed to fight" in Ramadi.

"Mr. [Barack] Obama, what is the distance between Ramadi and Al-Asad base where U.S. planes are based?" Suleimani said in a speech late Sunday in the southern province of Kerman carried by state news agency IRNA. "How can you be in that country under the pretext of protecting the Iraqis and do nothing? This is no more than being an accomplice in a plot."

Harvey agreed Monday that Iran has committed frontline combat troops and deployed advisors to the front lines and has employed artillery.

"Senior officers have died fighting ISIS," Harvey told Newsmax. "Iran sees that the U.S. is highly risk averse while executing a disjointed and poorly resourced strategy that is failing in both Syria and Iraq."

Iran is also likely concerned, said Harvey, "because Bashar al Assad's forces are in fact losing gradually on multiple fronts [and] the loss in Syria would be a major strategic blow for Iran, which is counting on an infusion of billions of dollars with the completion of the nuclear accord. From the financial windfall Tehran will be more able to bolster military and financial support to Assad."


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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's comments on Sunday that the Iraqi city of Ramadi fell because of the Iraqi army's reluctance to fight was unfortunate, Col. Derek Harvey, a former senior intelligence officer and adviser to Gen. David Petraeus told Newsmax Monday.
Col. Derek Harvey, Ashton Carter, Ramadi, Iraq, ISIS, fight
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Monday, 25 May 2015 10:56 PM
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