President Donald Trump’s plan to defeat ISIS is essentially the same as his predecessor, President Barack Obama, despite Trump’s frequent criticism of the former president’s efforts against the terror group.
“The strategy of by, with, through, and alongside our Iraqi partners has not changed,” New Zealand Army Brigadier Hugh McAslan, the deputy commanding general for land forces in Operation Inherent Resolve, told Business Insider from Baghdad in a Skype interview.
Though Trump has made small tactical changes to the anti-ISIS campaign, such as giving the military greater authority to call the shots on the ground, the overall strategy established in 2014 remains pretty much the same, according to The Daily Beast.
The president has so far missed two deadlines he set himself for detailing a new ISIS strategy, according to CNN. That delay, according to the Daily Beast, is because the Trump White House has been asking defence officials to pitch new ideas that could differentiate the current strategy from Obama’s.
The strategy put in place by the Obama administration, however, seems to be working quite well, McAslan said. Though the overall strategy hasn’t changed, McAslan said, what has “changed is the fact that in 2014, ISIS was at the gates of Baghdad, and now they are a desperate enemy about to be defeated in Iraq’s second largest city.“
“The strategy hasn’t changed at all throughout,” he added, mentioning coalition efforts to train indigenous forces, advise them, and offer precision air strikes, intelligence, and surveillance.
Iraqi security forces have only about 3% left to go before Mosul is fully liberated from ISIS forces. Once Iraq’s second-largest city is recaptured, they will move on to other small pockets of terrain still held by ISIS in Iraq, which include cities such as Hawija, Tal Afar, and Al Qaim.
Meanwhile, coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have continued to push further into Raqqa, Syria, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State. The coalition estimates there are approximately 3,000 to 4,000 fighters left to defend that city.