Pentagon To Send Hundreds Of Anti-Tank Artillery To Iraq, Concerns Mount Weapons Could Fall In Hands Of ISIS
The Pentagon will be sending 2,000 anti-tank rockets to Iraq to aid the latter’s fight against the suicide car-bombing strategy launched by members of the Islamic State.
Over the weekend, Iraqi forces were helpless as Islamic State militants sent vehicles packed with explosives and driven by suicide bombers. The radicals ultimately seized the city of Ramadi from the Iraqi forces.
The deployment of the AT-4 anti-tank rockets following the fall of Ramadi and the combat strategy employed by the Islamic State militants just comes in the right time, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.
“This is a good counter to that (type of bombing).” The weapons are expected to arrive in Iraq in mid-June.
But concerns are mounting the weapons, which could include the M136 AT4, an 84-mm shoulder-launched anti-tank system, could fall yet again in the hands of the Islamic State fighters in the event the Iraqi forces get overran again in the future.
A report by The New Yorker described how a narrator of an ISIS video bragged about having sophisticated weapons. “The Iraqi officials beg the Americans for weapons, and then they leave them here for us,” the narrator gloated. A report by The Associated Press had confirmed that dozens of U.S. military vehicles, tanks, armored personnel carriers and other artillery pieces were abandoned by the Iraqi forces as they panicked and the Islamic State fighters finally captured Ramadi, a key city 70 miles from the capital of Baghdad.
The ISIS video showed idle Humvees and boxes of American mortar shells and bullets. When the Islamic State fighters carried out its assault on Ramadi, they brought along 30 vehicles, including Humvees, loaded with explosives. The assault killed as many as 500 Iraqi troops.
Warren could have only hoped the Iraqis were able to destroy all their vehicles and weapons before they abandoned Ramadi so the Islamic fighters won’t be able to use them anymore. “Certainly preferable if they had been destroyed; in this case they were not.” His statement is loaded and one that can predict future military confrontations with the radicals.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, in a Fox News report, said the Iraqi troops left too much equipment when Ramadi fell. “We’ll have to start all over, I think, on training the Iraqi military.”
Warren believed the Iraqi troops will be able to retake Ramadi, but “it will be difficult.” Indeed, especially if the weapons being used by the Islamic fighters are as sophisticated and possess the same caliber as those used by the forces.
The Hill reports that since the April visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s to Washington, the U.S. has sent 250 mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, 50 with mine rollers; 2,000 Hellfire missiles; 20,000 M-16s; 10,000 sets of body armor and helmets; and millions of rounds of ammunition, including small arms, tank artillery and anti-tank weapons.