A spring offensive is on cards as US and Iraqi Army plans the best way to retake the city of Mosul. The town is at present held by 1000 to 2000 ISIS fighters and experts say that it would require more than 20000 to 25000 Iraqi troops to effectively wrest control of the city from the ISIS fighters.
The main attack force of five Iraqi army brigades will need to be trained by US advisers according to information provided by official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The US has not ruled out delaying the operation from a planned start in April or May if it feels that more time is required to train the Iraqi forces which will then be flung to take on the ISIS in Mosul.
The battle of Mosul which is also the second largest city in Iraq will be the first major test for the Iraqi Army which had folded back and fled as Islamic State extremists swept across Northern Iraq last year and created a self styled caliphate or religious state.
But will the offensive be successful? This question was addressed by White House press secretary Josh Earnest who said that last year there was no central government in place which would have acted as a unifying force. Today there is a functioning central government in Bagdad and backed by American airpower, Iraqi security forces will be more effective on the battlefield.
Iraqi officials had been asking for an earlier offensive in Mosul but the US had resisted such moves. It stated that more time is required to train the fledgling Iraqi army. As the old adage goes, the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.
US defense and intelligence officials are largely skeptical about the success of the large Iraqi force. Questions are being raised about the utility of the briefing and experts feel that it is intended to foster an impression that the Islamic state has lost the initiative and is now on the defensive.