Robert Burns of the AP reports that:
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 briefing was authorized – making for one of those rare Washington headlines the genesis of which was not a leak – and it went into what many thought was surprising and indiscreet detail. To include the fact that:
… the U.S. wanted the Iraqis to launch the offensive in Mosul in April or May, although ... it might go later
The episode struck many as curious, at best, since:
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.
Meanwhile, it has become clear that there will most likely be no spring offensive to retake Mosul because the Iraqi army is not yet ready to undertake one. So, with the support of Iranian back Shia militias, it is now launching a offensive to retake Tikrit.
And, as Anne Bernard of the New York Times reports:
Tensions between Iraq and the United States over how to battle the Islamic State broke into the open on Tuesday, as Iraqi officials declared that they would fight on their own timetable with or without American help, and as United States warplanes conspicuously sat out the biggest Iraqi counteroffensive yet amid concerns over Iran’s prominent role.
On Monday, Iraq launched a politically sensitive operation to oust Islamic State militants from Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, without seeking American approval, officials said. Even as Iraq was taking a first step into a bigger battle to oust the Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, it was also signaling that its alliance with the United States might be more fraught than officials had let on.