ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Peshmerga on Monday received some 70 vehicles through the US Department of Defense (DoD)-funded Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF) program.
Col. Jeffery Todd Burroughs, Deputy Director Military Advisor Group North, told Kurdistan 24 during the handover ceremony that the coalition was “divesting some vehicles and rolling stock in order to enhance the Peshmerga mobility, approximately four dozen Humvees, approximately two dozen cargo trucks, and two or three tanker trucks.”
“We’re divesting those because as you know it’s very hot in Iraq, and the heat diminishes the Peshmerga or any soldier’s ability to move,” Col. Burroughs said, while temperatures in the Kurdistan Region reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius this month.
He added that it will hopefully “increase their operational reach by allowing them greater mobility to increase the number of supplies that they carry, and be able to defeat Daash (ISIS) in some of their perceived safe havens.”
He underlined that the coalition is committed to advising and supporting the Peshmerga going forward.
“Since 2015 we’ve divested over $6 billion worth of equipment to Iraq and to the Peshmerga, and we look to continue our advising ever we’re committed to defeating Daesh in that mission.”
He added that coalition coordination with the Peshmerga is run through the Kurdistan Coordination Cell.
“We coordinate daily with our Peshmerga partner forces with the Kurdistan Region Security Council and with the Ministry of Peshmerga and we’re committed to that effort. It’s a great relationship. The Peshmerga have the will to defeat Daesh (ISIS), and we hope to just enhance their capabilities to advise them in our support.”
A military base north of the Kurdish capital of Erbil used by coalition forces was targeted with a drone early on Friday. In June, an armed drone hit a residential building near the future US consulate outside Erbil. Two days later the US retaliated, striking targets along the Iraq-Syria border that belong to the Popular Mobilization Forces. Four militia members were killed.
“The attacks on coalition forces are unfortunate, but our resolve will not be deterred,” Burroughs added.
“As you can see, we’ve had attacks, and you can see the Peshmerga out here, we have coalition forces out here, and we’re together. We’re doing this divestment to continue the fight to defeat Daesh.”
“So, Daesh has been defeated militarily, but we are working hard with the Peshmerga, with the Iraqi security forces through extensive coordination in order to prevent their resurgence, and this divestment is going to help increase their operational reach to do just that,” he added.
The coalition official also said that Peshmerga Units 70 and 80 belong to the Kurdistan Region’s two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are committed in the fight against ISIS.
“I’ve spoken with both of them, I’ve met with leaders from across the Peshmerga. Their will is strong, and through advising and divestments, we are committed, the coalition is committed to the defeat of the Daesh mission.”
Major Brian Burns, media coordinator for the US-led coalition against ISIS also told Kurdistan 24 that the divestment will enable the Peshmerga forces to move faster and much quicker. “This is an example of the coalition’s commitment in order to help the Peshmerga and our partners, ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh.”
However, he said the Peshmerga forces are more than capable of conducting their own training.
While in the past, Coalition forces provided tactical level training to Peshmerga, they moved to an operational level advising mission this year amidst more COVID-19 restrictions, Coalition spokesperson Colonel Wayne Marotto earlier told Kurdistan 24.
“So I had an opportunity to watch the Peshmerga go through training at camp Zerevani let me tell you; they are professional, and they’re more than capable of conducting professional training, independently,” Maj. Burns stated, adding that the divestment of equipment will improve their capabilities.
“In terms of training, they’re more than willing and capable to conduct their own training and at this phase of the operation what we’re doing is an advise and assist role.”
Editing by John J. Catherine