The 3rd Cavalry commander said there were some major successes of the Iraqi Security Forces against the remnants of ISIS fighters remaining in scattered pockets throughout Iraq, a year after the Iraqi government’s declaration that the terror group’s physical “caliphate” had been destroyed.
The 3rd Cavalry’s approximately 2,000 troops from Fort Hood, deployed to Iraq for Operation Inherent Resolve, are working alongside Iraqi partners in advise and assist roles, said Col. Jonathan Byrom, commander of Task Force Rifles and deputy commander of Joint Operations Command-Iraq.
“For several months, we have worked hard to enable our Iraqi partners in the ongoing effort to defeat the remaining ISIS forces in both Iraq and Syria by providing intelligence support, joint fires (artillery), aerial surveillance and training opportunities,” he said Tuesday.
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander held a video conference with the Pentagon press corps to give an update on the current status of coalition operations in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State group.
“The Iraqi Security Forces have grown as a professional military force, increasing their capacity to conduct large-scale intelligence-driven operations and providing security to the Iraqi people. It’s been our honor to contribute to this effort,” Byrom said. “The 3rd Cavalry Regiment joined this fight in May, and in June, one of the Regiment’s artillery units joined two Iraqi artillery units ... working side-by-side providing fire support for operations. Brave Rifles troopers worked with Iraqi artillerymen, U.S. Marines, sailors and other coalition partners to conduct fire missions night and day for over a month.”
Many areas of Iraq are beginning to come alive now as the ISIS fighters are deliberately expelled by a concerted effort between Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, he added. In Mosul, where ISIS denied many the basic right of an education, thousands of students are returning to recently opened schools.
“Businesses are reopening where rubble once stood, and over 4 million displaced Iraqis have returned to their homes of origin, with less than 2 million remaining in camps across Iraq,” Byrom said. “But there is still work to be done, and the international community has a role in restoring stability and prosperity to the people of Iraq that suffered under the ISIS rule of terror.”
The regiment deployed approximately half of its 4,300 soldiers to Iraq in April for a nine-month tour of duty in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. They are due to return to Fort Hood beginning in January.