According to the news site US News, the U.S. has stockpiled over 3000 military vehicles, mostly mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs), in a depot in Kuwait. The military gear will be stationed there, in preparation for a joint ground-military offensive in the city of Mosul, Iraq.
The stockpiling of military gear is just one of several factors suggesting an imminent military attack against The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Since June this year, the militant Islamic group has taken over large swathes of Iraq, including its second-largest city Mosul, internally displacing an estimated 1.8 million Iraqis.
Preparations for a military ground offensive come less than a month after the Iraqi military recaptured the northeastern town of Baiji from ISIS-militants. Although the military has struggled to sustain this victory, since November, several developments indicate that the Iraqi government has decisively pursued multiple strategies that are likely to make a counteroffensive against ISIS more effective.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Nineveh Provincial Council member Ghazwan Hamed said in November that the Iraqi military has been transferring arms to the Kurdish North.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi has confirmed plans for the training of regional resistance forces, the National Guard. In an op-ed published last week in the Wall Street Journal, al Abadi stated, ”We are working with the U.S. and our international partners to train and equip tribal fighters who are currently fighting alongside Iraqi security forces. Where possible, some individuals from these groups will be integrated into the Iraqi Security Forces or the national guard.” Despite opposition from some domestic political parties, the creation of a National Guard is seen as an important development in winning over support from disgruntled Sunni factions, and fighting ISIS in the long-run.
In an attempt to boost regional backing for the military counteroffensive, al Abadi spent the month of December touring Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, amongst other countries.
Since assuming office and replacing former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in September 2014, al Abadi and his government have taken significant steps toward achieving national reconciliation between Iraq’s political and religious factions, and reformation of internal institutions, including the military.
Iraq’s liberation from ISIS, particularly Mosul, is likely to be al Abadi’s biggest challenge. ISIS has dispersed its forces into urban areas, making airstrikes ineffective in the military’s fight against the group.
So far, the Iraqi government has declined to say when a counteroffensive against ISIS will be launched, though the initiative is likely to be scheduled for Spring 2015.