Petraeus: Fight Against Islamic State 'Inadequate'

September 22, 2015

Retired Gen. and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus testified Tuesday that U.S. progress against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) terrorist group has been "inadequate."

"It has been more than a year since the U.S. commenced military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," Petraeus said to the Senate Armed Services Committee. "While there have been significant accomplishments, the progress achieved thus far has been inadequate.

The U.S. has carried out thousands of air strikes against IS as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, but the terrorist group shows no signs of retreating.

"In Iraq we have halted and reversed ISIS’s momentum in some areas, but we have seen gains by ISIS in others such as Ramadi," Petraeus said.

Petraeus said that "some elements of the right strategy" to defeat IS are being utilized by the U.S., but that "several are under-resourced while others are missing."

Petraeus recommended ramping up U.S. military support for its allies in the area, notably the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga. He also recommended embedding U.S. advisors behind the front lines in Iraqi brigades, coordinating airstrikes more closely with Iraqi coalition partners, and broadening the rules of engagement to carry out airstrikes against IS targets.

Petraeus stopped short of recommending the deployment of U.S. troops for combat roles before a "viable" force of Iraqi partners was available to hold onto the areas taken back from IS.

Petraeus’s testimony can be added to a litany of bad news about U.S. progress against IS, although the White House had until recently characterized the fight as successful.

Retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who created the anti-IS coalition, will step down in November after struggling with the White House for control of the war, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Last week, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the U.S.'s top commander of Middle East operations, admitted the failure of a program to train and equip moderate rebels to fight IS in Syria.

Hanging over these revelations are serious allegations that senior U.S. officials manipulated intelligence on IS to hide its strength, lending credence to the White House’s narrative that Inherent Resolve was working.