ABU DHABI — US joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) may be deployed to Iraq soon to support coalition airstrikes, according to the deputy commanding general of operations for US Central Command.
Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard of the Kuwait-based Third Army, based in Kuwait, told Defense News there might be "a limited need" for JTACs to be deployed, however there is no current requirement for the placement of more US troops in the fight against the Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.
"That really should not be necessary, I personally lead our first forces in Iraq from June to November, what we are doing is advising and assisting," he said.
"However, there may be a limited need for having air traffic controllers on the ground, JTACs, to help with airstrikes."
General Pittard said that currently the Peshmerga Kurdish forces, the Iraqi security forces and the other forces fighting ISIS are doing well in the fight against ISIS.
The deputy commander said that the breakdown of Iraqi forces in the first stages of the conflict was due to sectarian politics used by the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's administration.
"What was missing was how the leaders were chosen, the leaders were very sectarian, political appointees from former Prime Minister Maliki, for example, and that's not good in any organization and they didn't continue to train while the CTS [Counter Terrorism Service] under General Kannani did continue to train," he said.
"Last June, the Iraqi forces did fail then, but if you notice since our airstrikes began in August, since we sent forces to advise and assist, the Iraqis, they haven't fled."
However, he added, the fact that Iraqi forces have started offensive operations against ISIS has been impressive, acquiring 800 miles of regained territory between Iraq and Syria.
The general said stated that despite President Barack Obama's three year's request to Congress, he expects ISIS to be defeated before then.
"The three-year request gives [Obama] space, will it take that long, I'm not sure, the actual defeat of Daesh [ISIS] at least on the Iraqi side may not take that long, but over time, building partner capacity and the security forces of Iraq ... the collective effort by many nations to assist Iraq may take some time," he said.
"The whole world is outraged at what ISIS has been doing to innocent people, the overall strategy as President Obama has talked about is first to degrade then dismantle and then to defeat ISIS," he said. "But also we collectively, to get after the roots of why they have been able to take root in certain places, that is addressing the concerns of minority Sunni community in Iraq and the majority of Sunni community in Syria," he said.