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.
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.
Backed by allied Shiite and Sunni fighters, Iraqi security forces on Monday began a large-scale military operation to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown from the Islamic State extremist group, state TV said, a major step in a campaign to reclaim a large swath of territory in northern Iraq controlled by the militants.
Ukraine's deputy foreign minister says he is preparing for "full-scale war" against Russia and wants Canada to help by supplying lethal weapons and the training to use them. Vadym Prystaiko, who until last fall was Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, says the world must not be afraid of joining Ukraine in the fight against a nuclear power.
While answering questions from service members in Kandahar, Afghanistan, newly sworn-in Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter revealed that he is "open-minded" about transgendered individuals serving in the military, adding, "I don't think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them."
In remarks at the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, President Obama warned that one can't profile a terrorist, or predict who will become one. It's not determined by people or any particular faith, the president said.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, says that "ground troops are necessary" to defeat ISIS. "But," Power insisted this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, "they're not going to be American ground troops."
House speaker John Boehner criticized President Obama's ISIS war authorization, saying that it does not go far enough.
"ISIL is at war with our country and our allies," reads Boehner's statement. "If we are going to defeat this enemy, we need a comprehensive military strategy and a robust authorization, not one that limits our options.
On February 4, we reported that U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) was continuing to suggest that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was "conducting airstrikes" in Syria against the Islamic State (ISIL) despite an apparent suspension of flights by that country since late December.
In response to the Islamic State’s horrific burning of a pilot, the Jordanian government has released from prison one of the most influential al Qaeda-allied ideologues in the world. Sound strange? It is.