The fall of Iraq’s provincial capital of Ramadi into the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) was in part caused by the low morale among Iraqi troops, US Department of Defence said yesterday.
Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren told reporters: “In this case of Ramadi, there was a problem of both low morale amongst the troops and there was a problem with the command structure.”
“Several factors contributed to problems among Iraqi forces that included long periods of fighting against ISIL, terrorist tactics that discouraged Iraqi forces and concerns of commanders in Ramadi about the flow of resources from the central government,” Warren said, using another acronym for ISIS.
According to Warren, the Iraqi forces did not feel that they were properly supported or that they have the resources they want or that they were even in a position to win.
“The command and control structure does not appear to have been fully up to the task,” he said.
Warren added that the Iraqi forces retreated despite the fact that they “substantially outnumbered the enemy with a substantial combat power advantage”.
On Sunday, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter launched a scathing criticism on the Iraqi forces after they withdrew from Ramadi leaving the city to fall under ISIS’s control.
“What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” Carter told CNN.
Carter’s remarks angered the Iraqi government with the parliament’s Security and Defence Committee warning on Monday that Secretary Carter’s remarks “would weaken the Iraqi military’s morale”, calling at the same time on the US administration to “honour its commitment to arms deals it signed with Iraq”.
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Earnest defended Carter’s remarks: “What Secretary Carter said is consistent with the analysis that he’s received from those who are on the ground, who are looking at the situation.”
Earnest added that the Iraqi government also acknowledged that its forces withdrawal from Ramadi was “in part attributable to a breakdown in some military command and planning”.
Last week Islamic State militants seized control of Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province, raising questions over the US-led international coalition’s strategy against the terrorist group in Iraq.