In Drawn-Out Battle of Mosul, Limits of Iraqi Military Show – New York Times
BAGHDAD — When Iraq’s top generals finalized the plan to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group, they gave themselves six months to finish the job.
“It was the maximum time cap,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said last week. “We had to plan for the worst, so we don’t get surprised.”
Six weeks into the battle, the force made up of 50,000 troops, Shiite and Sunni tribal militias and Kurdish fighters is a long way from winning back the country’s second-largest city. The fight is showing the limitations of Iraq’s military and security forces, suggesting it has still not fully recovered from the collapse it suffered two years ago in the face of the militants’ blitz across much of northern and western Iraq.
As expected, IS militants are tenaciously defending their last major foothold in Iraq, and the 1 million civilians who remain inside prevent the use of overwhelming firepower.
But what is alarming, according to Iraqi field commanders, is that the progress so far has been lopsided. The battle-seasoned special forces are doing most of the fighting and slowly advancing inside the city. Other military outfits are halted outside the city limits, unable to move forward because of resistance, battle fatigue, inexperience or lack of weaponry suited for urban warfare.