US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has shared his disappointment in the Iraqi military, following ISIS's conquest of Ramadi last week. Carter pointed out to CNN that, even though the Iraqis "vastly outnumbered" ISIS fighters, they still fled the fight.
"What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force," explained Carter.
The Secretary of Defense also addressed the US's feeling of helplessness: "We can give them training, we can give them equipment – we obviously can't give them the will to fight."
The head of the defense and security committee in Iraq, Hakim al-Zamili, disputes Carter's assertion, saying that his comment was "unrealistic and baseless." Instead, al-Zamili blames the US for his force's poor showing. He says that America did not provide "good equipment, weapons and aerial support," without which the Iraqis could not have halted ISIS.
Reports indicate that the Iraqis fleeing Ramadi abandoned tanks, artillery, APCs, and Humvees, all of which they received from the US.
Ramadi is the capital of Iraq's central Anbar province and an important site on the path to Baghdad.
The United States withdrew from Iraq in 2011, leaving the country's defense in local hands. Despite their American training and equipment, the Iraqi forces consistently failed to prevent ISIS advances. Last year, the US returned to the region as has been carrying out an air campaign against ISIS for the past nine months.
The combined efforts of the US and Iraq, ISIS continues to advance. Conquering Ramadi, the capital of the central Anbar province, removed one of the jihadist group's major obstacles on its path to Baghdad.