Pentagon Calls Mosul Briefing A Mistake By CENTCOM

Excerpt:

“He’s conducting an internal inquiry,” Dempsey said, adding that he is confident Austin will “take the appropriate action.” He did not say what that might be.

The briefing was done by an officer at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. He spoke by phone to a group of reporters in the Pentagon on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by Central Command.

The episode is remarkable in at least two respects. It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets.

Pentagon Calls Mosul Briefing A Mistake By CENTCOM

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter testifies before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes

By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press

Published: March 3, 2015

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Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth and CENTCOM Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin testify at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, March 3, 2015. Rick Vasquez/Stars and Stripes
CENTCOM chief: Islamic State can be defeated without US ground troops

The general in charge of U.S. forces in the Middle East defended the Obama administration’s war strategy Tuesday, telling House lawmakers that the Islamic State will be defeated without U.S. ground combat troops.
This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq. Iraqi0Revolution

ANALYSIS

U.S. on sidelines of key Iraqi battle against Islamic State

The campaign for Tikrit is a dress rehearsal for the real contest: The fight to recapture Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the extremists’ biggest stronghold. But can a large-scale ground offensive alone succeed, without U.S.-led air support?

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter testifies before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes

In first testimony as DOD chief, Carter defends White House defense budget Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told senators that President Barack Obama’s proposed $534-billion budget – $38 billion over the cap – will allow the military to defend the country and fight wars, while also warning that funding the military under the smaller cap could create a national security crisis.

Peshmerga fighters watch the front line at the edge of the highway connecting Irbil and Mosul in Iraq on Dec. 8, 2014. The Islamic State fighters were less than a mile away. Jad Sleiman/Stars and Stripes
CENTCOM: US-Iraq mission to take back Mosul to launch in April or May

American military officials and their Iraqi counterparts have developed a detailed battle plan to recapture Iraq’s second largest city, and a brutal urban fight could kick off as early as April, U.S. Central Command says.
WASHINGTON – A U.S. military officer’s media briefing about plans for an Iraqi-led ground offensive in Mosul, including its expected timing, amounted to a mistaken disclosure of “military secrets,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday.

The briefer, whose presentation for reporters at the Pentagon on Feb. 19 was authorized by U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. wanted the Iraqis to launch the offensive in Mosul in April or May, although he also said it might go later.

“That clearly was neither accurate information nor, had it been accurate, would have been information that should be blurted out to the press,” Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “So it’s wrong on both scores.”

It now appears likely that the offensive will not begin this spring, with Iraq’s security forces requiring more time for U.S.-organized training. It has been widely known for months that the offensive is in the planning stages and that it would likely mark a decisive moment in the campaign to dislodge the Islamic State from Iraq.

Islamic State fighters overran Mosul last June. Iraqi government forces folded quickly, leading to the start of a U.S.-led bombing campaign in Iraq in August.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was testifying alongside Carter, said he had discussed the Mosul briefing with Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of Central Command.

“He’s conducting an internal inquiry,” Dempsey said, adding that he is confident Austin will “take the appropriate action.” He did not say what that might be.

The briefing was done by an officer at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. He spoke by phone to a group of reporters in the Pentagon on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by Central Command.

The episode is remarkable in at least two respects. It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets.

Asked about it by reporters twice last weekend, Carter was more circumspect.

“The important thing is that it will get done when it can be done successfully,” he said last Friday, referring to the Mosul offensive. “And even if I knew exactly when that was going to be, I wouldn’t tell you.” Asked to comment again the following day, Carter said it’s important to keep the public informed, “consistent with security and other considerations.”

On Tuesday he was more pointed and expansive in directly criticizing Central Command.

“It is important that we be open as a department – not with military secrets and not with war plans, which was the mistake made in this case – but we do try to keep the country informed of what we’re doing,” he said.

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