Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, the top U.S. military official in Iraq and chief of the Office of Security Cooperation, said the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq could be defeated in one year, but added that battling the jihadist group elsewhere will be “the fight of our lifetime.”
“I am very confident, from what I see on the ground in Baghdad, that we will continue to pursue this tough, adaptive adversary, and we’re going to defeat them where they currently are to include al Anbar and press up to Mosul. But to be sure, and to be very clear, this will be a long-term campaign, against this very demanding and difficult enemy,” said Lt. Gen. Bednarek on WABC Radio’s “The Rita Cosby Show” in an exclusive interview that aired Sunday.
He added that ISIS in Iraq could be defeated in one year, “but it’s going take a very difficult and hard push by many, many nations involved with this.”
The general was asked to comment on the anti-ISIS fight outside of Iraq as the jihadist organization expands into other nations.
“I think it will definitely be the fight of our lifetime, and Rita, well after all of us are no longer actively involved in Iraq, this will be a concern, for not only Iraq, not only our Mideast partners, our coalition and Gulf nation states… But, even our European allies,” he said, later adding, “This will be a long-term effort as all of us know… Not just for a year or two years in Iraq, but for the long-term future of our country.”
ISIS has established a presence outside of Iraq and Syria. A U.S.-led coalition has been launching airstrikes against ISIS targets inside those two nations.
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is scheduled to meet with President Obama to discuss the threat posed by ISIS.
Bednarek anticipated that the Iraqi leader will discuss Iran’s growing influence in Iraq.
“We’re certainly aware that Iran is training. They’re very, very involved. Always have been in Iraq… but also advising Iraqi security forces, but more perhaps of greater concern, is the Shia militias,” said the top U.S. defense official. “We know that Iran is providing supplies, arms, munitions, and aircraft for Iraqis’ armed forces.”
“The Prime Minister will highlight… that Iranian influence will not govern Iraq,” he added. “And he is very adamant that going forward, they all, his Iraqi Security Forces, will not be interred by other countries — especially Iran.”
ISIS is allegedly losing ground in Iraq, but it is gaining territory elsewhere, in nations like Libya.
Follow Edwin Mora on Twitter: @EdwinMora83.