Did the U.S. take their eye off ISIS for too long?

Elizabeth Howe
January 22, 2020 - 4:07 pm
Operation Inherent Resolve


After the U.S. killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani at the beginning of 2020, the U.S. Operation Inherent Resolve paused its operations against ISIS in order to bolster security elsewhere in anticipation of retaliation. That retaliatory Iranian missile strike came days later with an attack on Iraqi military installations housing U.S. personnel. 

Iraqi bases housing US troops struck with Iranian ballistic missiles

Anti-ISIS operations have since resumed. But was the pause a long enough gap for ISIS to further threaten the national security of the United States?

"In light of recent events — the pause or the adjustment of how we're working with our partners — what we've really seen is ISIS hasn't been able to exploit any gaps or seams that may have arisen because of that," said the Deputy Commander of Operations and Intelligence for OIR Maj. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich. 

Operation Inherent Resolve's formal mission statement is to defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria and to set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability. According to Grynkewich, the operation is still efficiently doing just that — but the U.S. should be wary of further relieving the "pressure" it's currently putting on ISIS.

"ISIS does certainly still remain a threat. They have the potential to resurge if we take pressure off of them for too long a period of time," Grynkewich said. "In the short term as we've adjusted some of our activities downrange in Iraq and Syria I don't think it's an immediate threat, but the more time we take the pressure off of them the more that threat will continue to grow."

An undisclosed number of U.S. service members were injured in the Iranian attack that temporarily paused OIR's anti-ISIS mission. Eleven service members were flown out of Iraq last week for the treatment of concussive symptoms. Tuesday, more service members followed.

Additional troops flown out of Iraq for injuries from the Iran missile strike

While Grynkewich declined to provide the specific total number of service members being treated for injuries resulting from the attack, he did say the number likely did not exceed "the teens." Grynkewich also declined to comment on the president's statement that the injuries sustained were not "serious injuries."

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