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Lessons Learned from the Battle for Mosul
Professor Clive Williams, MG
The fight to recover the Iraqi city of Mosul from the occupying forces of Islamic State (IS) began with skirmishes on the city's approaches on 16 October 2016 and is now into its fourth month. It has resulted in heavy Iraqi military and civilian casualties, and possibly as many as 2,000 IS casualties.
Many competing political and strategic interests are engaged – notably Sunni, Shia, American, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Turkish, as well of course as those of IS and its supporters.
When Mosul finally falls, it will leave enormous problems for the Iraqi government of re-housing refugees and rebuilding infrastructure, as well as difficult negotiations about who will control the city.
Back in 2004 Australia had trainers based near Mosul as part of the Australian Army Training Team in Iraq (AATT-I). Today we are peripheral players. RAAF aircraft could be participating in coalition air strikes, while some Australian-trained Iraqi troops may be involved in the battle. It is also possible that some of our SAS personnel are integrated into American advisor teams with frontline Iraqi units.
There are ongoing concerns in Australia about whether Australian forces should still be involved in Iraq and whether we should continue to follow the US into poorly-thought-through military commitments - that many argue do not engage our core strategic interests.
Professor Williams will examine the various competing interests, how the battle has developed, likely outcomes – and some of the lessons learned.
Professor Clive Williams MG is an Honorary Professor at the ANU Law Faculty’s Center for Military and Security Law and is an Adjunct Professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He is a former Australian Army intelligence officer and former Defence intelligence officer. He has been following developments in Iraq since the 1970s and is a Life Member of the USI of the ACT.
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