On Thursday, a military official from the U.S. outlined the plan to retake Mosul a key city in Iraq from the Islamic State militant group as soon as April. The move was unusual and drew immediate criticism from two intelligence officers from the U.S.
A senior Central Command U.S. official said the shaping for battle was currently underway. The military in Iraq hopes to start its operations between April and May and retake Mosul prior to Ramadan, which starts June 17.
The official, who does not have the authorization to speak about an operation publicly and spoke to reporters anonymously, said five army brigades from the Iraq military would be sued to battle for Mosul, along with a number of smaller brigades, which would bring the total fighting forces to over 25,000. In addition, three Kurdish Peshmerga brigades of fighters will take part.
However, two intelligence officers in the U.S. military said that the decision to announce this plan publicly was counterintuitive as it telegraphs the number of units and timing involved.
That, said the officers allows IS to prepare for this battle by laying out improvised explosive devices.
The two officers both questioned whether there were political considerations on the White House administration’s part that factored into making the announcement publicly.
Militants with IS took control of Mosul in June of 2014, as it marched across huge swaths of land in Syria and Iraq, sending the military of Iraq fleeing.
Currently, officials estimate that there are 1,000 to 2,000 insurgents from IS in Mosul. Leaders of the military have talked at length about retaking Mosul but have said it would not launch any operation until the troops from Iraq were ready.
Included would be counterterrorism forces from Iraq who have received training from special operations forces of the U.S. Each brigade includes approximately 2,000 troops.
The official form CENTCOM said the U.S. would provide support for the Mosul operation, including air support, training, surveillance and intelligence.
The official added that there has not yet been a decision made as to whether some ground troops for the U.S. would be sent to call in the airstrikes.