In an attempt to increase the pressure in the fight against Islamic State militants, a new Special Operations task force will be formed in Iraq, said Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on Tuesday.
In a testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Carter said, “This is an important capability because it takes advantage of what we’re good at.” The new task force will work with Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish peshmerga. “We’re good at intelligence; we’re good at mobility; we’re good at surprise. We have the long reach that no one else has,” Carter said, adding that the task force “puts everybody on notice in Syria that you don’t know at night who is going to be coming in the window. And that’s the sensation that we want all of ISIL’s leadership and followers to have.”
Carter said the new unit will constitute of a “mixed force” of troops from other nations.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified alongside Carter that the force’s principal responsibility will be to increase U.S. intelligence for the region and the Islamic State’s activities. “Our effectiveness is inextricably linked to the quality of the intelligence that we have,” he said.
The task force will be posted near Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, U.S. officials said.
There have been several raids launched by the U.S. on Islamic State facilities in the past year that have resulted in the acquisition of significant intelligence regarding the militant group’s structure, financing and tactics. According to the Washington Post, the new task force, unlike the previous raids carried out by forces stationed outside of Iraq and Syria, will offer greater detail into the planning and conduction of such operations. “You have people on the ground who can take prisoners . . . gather hard drives and use that to exploit intelligence,” one official said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. said the formation of the new force was a “belated step forward.” He said, “However, today’s announcement is yet another reactive and incremental step, specifically responding to the Paris attacks, in a policy that has allowed the ISIL threat to metastasize to Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere across the globe. A comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIL is totally absent, urgently needed, and long overdue.”