- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2016

Hundreds of soldiers attached to the Army’s 1st Infantry Division are heading to Iraq to support American-backed efforts to drive the Islamic State from the country.

Roughly 500 soldiers from the division, based at Ft. Riley, Kansas, will deploy to the country this fall, according to an Army statement issued Friday. The soldiers will replace members of the 101st Airborne serving at the American military headquarters in Baghdad for most of this year.

“In that role, the division headquarters will provide command and control of coalition troops training, advising, and assisting Iraqi Security Forces,” under the auspices of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led mission against Islamic State — also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh — service officials said.

Primarily, the unit’s training and advising mission with Iraqi forces will be focused on preparing those troops for the looming assault on Mosul, the country’s second-largest city and the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq.

U.S. military advisers will also provide support to Iraqi-led anti-Islamic State operations in the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, where the group has already lost significant ground to government offensives in both areas, said Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, incoming commander for the 1st Infantry Division.

The unit is “well-trained and ready to continue the tremendous support the 101st Airborne Division and the coalition are providing to our Iraqi allies,” Gen. Martin said in Friday’s statement.

Earlier this month, officials with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq announced that training for the final tranche of Iraqi units pegged for the Mosul attack is nearly complete, clearing the way for the long-anticipated campaign to retake the city.

A dozen Iraqi army brigades — 10,000 to 20,000 troops — backed by over 5,000 U.S. service members are expected to kick off the Mosul operation within a matter of weeks.

The deployment of 615 U.S. troops to the main American base south of Mosul this month was the “final increase” needed before the siege, said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Mr. al-Abadi and President Obama have repeatedly said that the Islamic State would be driven out of Mosul by the end of the year, yet delays in planning for the operation have put that timeline in doubt.

It remains unclear when Iraqi troops and Kurdish paramilitary forces could begin moving into the city, with American and allied officials reiterating it would be up to Baghdad when the operation kicks off.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly slammed the Obama administration and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for what he said was loose talk openly letting Islamic State fighters know the U.S. battle plan.

The outspoken Republican presidential nominee confounded conventional understanding of warfare when he suggested that U.S. forces launch a “sneak attack” against the Islamic State group.

His proposal, during the second presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on Sunday, was in reference to the battle to liberate Mosul.

“Why can’t they do it quietly and do the attack and make it a sneak attack, and after the attack is made inform the American public that we have knocked out the [Islamic State] leaders and have a tremendous success?” Mr. Trump said.

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