Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve
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Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) is the Joint Task Force established by the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), set up by United States Army Central (ARCENT) to coordinate military efforts against ISIL (Da'esh). It is composed of military forces and personnel from over 30 countries. The stated aim of CJTF–OIR is to "degrade and destroy" ISIL. Its establishment by US Central Command was announced in December 2014, after it was set up to replace the ad hoc arrangements that had previously been established to coordinate operations following the rapid gains made by ISIL in Iraq in June. Formed in October 2014, its first "coalition integration conference" was held the first week of December 2014. Current operations are named Operation Inherent Resolve by the United States Department of Defense. Lieutenant General Paul T. Calvert is the current coalition commander.
While ground forces were also deployed in various roles (special forces raids, trainers, advisers, artillery, spotters), the bulk of CJTF-OIR's combat operations took the form of an air war against the Islamic State. The countries that directly participated in this part of the campaign were the United States (accounting for 75–80% of airstrikes), Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, Belgium, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. By the end of 2017, CJTF-OIR stated that their airstrikes had killed over 80,000 ISIL fighters. The coalition also provided $3.5 billion in military equipment to the Iraqi military, provided billions more to the Peshmerga, and trained 189,000 Iraqi soldiers and police. It has also provided significant support to the Syrian Democratic Forces.
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From August 2014 to August 2015, coalition aircraft flew a total of 45,259 sorties, with the U.S. Air Force flying the majority (67%), and dropped more than 5,600 bombs. At the time, The Guardian reported that a team of independent journalists had published details of 52 airstrikes which killed more than 450 civilians. The coalition acknowledged only 2 non-combatant deaths.
On 22 December 2018, three days after Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw all its troops from Syria, Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition against ISIL, announced his resignation from his post.
In April 2019, a joint investigation by Amnesty International and Airwars reported that 1,600 civilians were killed by coalition airstrikes and U.S. artillery shelling during the four-month battle to capture the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIL in 2017. The Coalition states it conducted 34,464 strikes against ISIL targets between 8 August 2014 and end of March 2019, and unintentionally killed at least 1,291 civilians.
On 5 January 2020, Lt. Gen. White posted a statement on his official Twitter account, pausing operations with the Iraqis:
Our first priority is protecting all Coalition personnel committed to the defeat of Daesh. Over the last two months, repeated rocket attacks by elements of Kata'ib Hezbollah have caused the death of Iraqi Security Forces personnel and a U.S. civilian. As a result, we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops. This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and support their operations against Daesh and we have paused these activities, subject to continuous review. We remain resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people that have welcomed us into their country to help defeat ISIS. We remain ready to return our full attention and efforts back to our shared goal of ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh.
As of September 2019, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Robert "Pat" White commands CJTF-OIR in an appointment which consolidates three commander's tasks. White is also the commander of the U.S. III Corps, which assumed authority over CJTF-OIF from ARCENT on 22 September 2015, turned over its command to XXVIII Airborne Corps, and then resumed command. White has two deputies, a British Army officer, Major General Gerald Strickland, who is currently serving as CJTF-OIR Deputy Commander-Stability, and a U.S. Air Force officer, Major General Alexus G. Grynkewich, who is currently serving as CJTF-OIR Deputy Commander-Operations and Intelligence. CJTF-OIR's headquarters is at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and includes approximately 700 personnel from 27 nations who are involved in coordinating operations in Iraq and Syria.
A dozen countries not involved in combat operations still contribute to Capacity Building Mission Iraq effort in Iraq. Those who have announced their participation in the program, which trains Iraqi security forces, include the United States, Australia, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. As a result of the BPC program, nearly 6,500 Iraqi forces completed training, with approximately 4,500 currently in training.
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Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general of XVIII Airborne Corps based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve during a transfer of authority ceremony on Monday August 21.
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