By Maj. Ed Ellingson, 1st Brigade Combat Team PAOMarch 10, 2016
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) said his unit is helping Iraqi security forces to achieve results in its mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve here.
Col. Scott Naumann likened the experience of advising and assisting the Iraqi security forces to that of a sports coach, equipping the team and preparing them for the contest or, in this case, the fight to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
"You're working drills with them, writing tactics and plays down on a whiteboard," Naumann said during an interview Tuesday. "But then you're on the sideline and they go off onto the field."
The campaign to retake Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, has already begun, largely with shaping operations such as coalition air-strikes, including the recent attacks on ISIL leadership, logistics, oil infrastructure and banking facilities, Naumann explained.
"(Presenting) 'multiple dilemmas' to the enemy is what we are trying to do right now," he said. "We want … to try to get (ISIL) to fight from multiple directions across the breadth and the depth of the battlefield."
The fight to defeat ISIL is a personal one for the Iraqi security forces, and it results in very motivated ISF units.
"Many of the officers that we're partnered with … have relatives that live under (ISIL)-occupied rule," Naumann said. "The Iraqis do not want to live with (ISIL's) distorted and poisonous ideology."
The Iraqi security forces are having great success taking back 24,000 square kilometers of terrain, and ISIL is suffering from the effects of the international coalition's airstrikes, Naumann said.
"We've seen ISIL forced to shift its tactics," he said. "Safe havens that (ISIL) previously had are now coming under pressure."
The 1st BCT advisers leverage their expertise to help their Iraqi counterparts adapt as ISIL changes.
"As we see techniques and tactics change," Naumann said, "(we) take those lessons back to the training so that (the Iraqis) are learning from the way the enemy is changing."
Naumann highlighted the impact that the support of friends, Family and the community has had on the Soldiers, including neighbors clearing snow from deployed Soldiers' driveways, and individuals sending care packages and letters.
"We really could not do what we do every single day if it wasn't for the incredible support that we enjoy," he said.