News / Middle East

    Top US General: Islamic State Fight 'Stalemated'

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on "Counter-ISIL Strategy" on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 7, 2015.
    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on "Counter-ISIL Strategy" on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 7, 2015.

    The fight against the Islamic State terror group has become "tactically stalemated," according to the United States' top general.

    Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey told a small group of reporters, including VOA, Wednesday in Berlin that challenges on both sides recently have prevented the Islamic militants and the coalition members fighting against them from making any dramatic gains.

    The coalition has intercepted Islamic State supply chains, struck the group's command and control, and pressured the militants from multiple directions.

    The general said the Iraqi military has undergone leadership changes and logistics challenges, however, as the Iraqi government has squabbled internally.

    "This is all about them [the Iraqis] getting their house in order and preparing for a push," he said.

    Problem spots

    The city of Baiji, a major oil city on the road to Mosul, has been hotly contested by Iraqi forces and IS militants for months.

    In May, Iraqi security forces fled from Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, when Islamic State fighters surged in. Iraqi security forces have since moved in near Ramadi in an effort to isolate the IS-controlled town.

    Chairman Dempsey said that the leaders who withdrew from Ramadi have "been replaced" and the weapons needed by Iraqis are available in warehouses, waiting for leaders who can help move them from place to place.

    He reiterated the Pentagon's view that the Iraqi military is not moving too slowly against the militants, but rather is "moving at a pace it can sustain based on the political environment."

    “Iraq will move at the speed of its governance," said Dempsey, "not at the speed of its military capability.

    Stalemate not new

    The chairman's comments mark the second time in a month a top U.S. military leader has used the term "stalemate" to describe the fight against the Islamic State.

    In August, then-chief of the Army, General Ray Odierno told reporters the U.S.-led bombing campaign had helped blunt the offensive by the Islamic State, but warned that "right now we are kind of in a stalemate."

    Asked whether the United States should put troops on the ground, Odierno said if the fight in Iraq is not making the kind of progress it needs in the next few months, the United States "should probably absolutely consider embedding some soldiers [with Iraqi forces], then see if that would make a difference."

    Dempsey is traveling on the first leg of his last international trip as Joint Chiefs Chairman. He will also visit Turkey and Estonia during the trip to discuss the Islamic State threat on NATO's southern flank and the potential threat of Russian aggression in eastern Europe.

    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    September 10, 2015 5:42 AM
    The US has sophisticated satellite surveillance. We know where they are at and what they are doing. They are holed up with their hostages in the thousands. We, the Kurds, and the Iraqis can make a move at the time of our choosing. The only thing they can do is react and continue with their nuisance suicide raids. Who do you think is going to blink first?

    by: Not Again from: Canada
    September 09, 2015 8:45 PM
    It is a sad day to hear the US senior mil. officer state that the fight is stalemated. A bunch of terrorists, with no air force, no naval forces, no space command, bare electronics, basic munitions....... has stalemated the "greatest military power on the planet". There is something fundamentally wrong with this assessment. If the allied forces had used the same approach in WWII, with the same type of defeatist leadership, we would be all speaking German now. Western taxpayers have spent trillions, most of it US taxpayers, to educate, train, develop the most powerful fighting forces that ever walked the planet, the US forces being by far the largest and best trained and equipped...... Something is fundamentally wrong with all of it; just imagine how more emboldened will the adversaries of the West be, when such conclusions are put forward.
    During WWII, without the daily 1000s bomber raids, the war would still be going on. Well I think that we will see what Russia and its regional clients' forces will do, maybe they also will fall flat on their project? Totally amazing situation; putting ground forces in, before the enemy is pulverised from the air also makes no sense, look at Iraq, and Afghanistan.
    In Response

    by: blatant isn't it from: USA
    September 10, 2015 11:36 AM
    From my understanding very few Muslims think ISIS is actually a Muslim group. The UN has recorded them receiving medical and material aid from Israel. Their tactics are against everything the Muslims say they stand for and their is no history of their actions in Muslim conflicts. There are however examples of their actions in US and Israel conflicts. The US probably is being given instructions from the Zionists not to do any real damage to ISIS as they are an effective divide and conquer force. Their presence is weakling the area and making it ripe for take over. That's probably why the US created them in the first place.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    September 09, 2015 11:43 PM
    Hey Not Again, Everything you say is true, [but], even if the US has the greatest military on the planet, they still need a competent leader that has a plan to win the wars they fight, don't they? .. REMEMBER? .. In 2009 president Obama started withdrawing US troop from the battlefields, and introduced his new anti-terrorist plan that used warplanes and drone bombs to degrade the terrorists? .. [Everybody on earth knows that?] .. The fact is, Obama hasn't any strategy to win any war against any terrorist group in the world? .. And when the US starts talking stalemate, that means the US is about ready to quit this war too? .. We'll see, won't we?

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