In a significant milestone, the headquarters responsible for coordinating US-led military operations in Iraq closed on Monday, “signifying the end of major combat operations against ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria],” the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command (CJFLCC) said in a statement.
According to the statement, the U.S.-led coalition “was deactivated today [Monday] at a ceremony in Baghdad” that included a casing of the colors. The command’s authorities have been transferred to the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve’s (CJTF-OIR) headquarters based in Kuwait that oversees the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Eastern Mediterranean region.
CJFLCC deactivated today at a ceremony in Baghdad, signifying the end of major combat operations against Daesh in #Iraq. The composition & responsibilities of @CJTFOIR continue to evolve but mission unchanged: #defeatDaesh. @Coalition pic.twitter.com/VLXso2Lfrp
— OIR Spokesman (@OIRSpox) April 30, 2018
“Casing the CJFLCC colors is a symbolic gesture, honoring the perseverance and sacrifice of our coalition partners. Thanks to our partnered success, we are able to continue our support to the government of Iraq under the unified command of CJTF-OIR,” Army Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, the former commander of CJFLCC, said in the statement.
Moving the CJFLCC’S responsibilities to CJTF-OIR’s headquarters in Kuwait is “acknowledging the changing composition and responsibilities of the coalition,” the statement read.
In other words, it shows the coalition’s commitment to consolidate command structure as its position “evolves from supporting and enabling combat operations to the training and development of self-sufficient Iraqi security-related capabilities,” the statement added.
Iraqi Security Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool Abdullah, said CJFLCC had been an extraordinary part of Iraq’s recent success to eradicate ISIS from the country.
“The commitment and professionalism of all the men and women from all the coalition nations has been of the highest order, and Iraq is immensely grateful for their sacrifice and dedication in this task,” he said. “We look forward to taking the partnership forward with the Combined Joint Task Force, and a friendship that will endure for years to come.”
The US invaded Iraq in 2003, alleging that Saddam Hussein possessed an illegal stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Years later, no such weapons were ever discovered. The U.S.-led coalition decimated the country’s military but soon realized that Iraq was a breeding ground for terrorist organizations. The Pentagon began withdrawing troops in the second half of 2011, just as the next war was flaring up in Syria. While US troops were exiting Iraq, ISIS claimed control of large territories inside the country by 2014, including the major city of Mosul in the northern region.
After more than three years of combat operations, Iraq announced in December that the fight against ISIS was officially over after Iraqi Armed Forces liberated most of the country. Iraqi and CJFLCC officials warned, however, that many obstacles could remain for an extended period despite the military victory.
While March marked the 15th anniversary of the US war in Iraq, the likelihood of US troops exiting the Middle East as a whole is nil. The closing of the CJFLCC only consolidates responsibilities to a centralized command in Kuwait, dubbed CJTF-OIR. As America’s military seems to be pivoting towards the next conflict, recent developments surrounding Israel and Iran could undoubtedly lead to the next flashpoint.