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Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State
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On September 10, 2014, President Obama announced the formation of a global coalition to "degrade and ultimately defeat" the Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS or the Arabic acronym Daesh). |2| Subsequently, some 60 nations and partner organizations agreed to participate, contributing either military forces or resources (or both) to the campaign. |3| In Brussels in December 2014, these 60 partners agreed to organize themselves along five "lines of effort," |4| (by contrast, the United States strategy involves nine lines of effort), with at least two countries in the lead for each: |5|
- supporting military operations, capacity building, and training (led by the United States and Iraq);
- stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters (led by The Netherlands and Turkey);
- cutting off IS access to financing and funding (led by Italy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States);
- addressing associated humanitarian relief and crises (led by Germany and the United Arab Emirates); and
- exposing IS's true nature (led by the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
According to the U.S. State Department, participants in the coalition include Albania, the Arab League, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. |6|
Each country is contributing to the coalition in a manner commensurate with its national interests and comparative advantage. Contributions include both military and non-military assistance, although reporting on non-military contributions tends to be sporadic. Some illustrative examples of the kinds of counter-IS assistance countries provided as the coalition was being formed in September 2014 include Switzerland's donation of $9 million in aid to Iraq, Belgium's contribution of 13 tons of aid to Iraq generally, Italy's contribution of $2.5 million of weaponry (including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and a million rounds of ammunition), and Japan's granting of $6 million in emergency aid to specifically help displaced people in Northern Iraq. |7|
Operation Inherent Resolve, the military component of the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State, began on August 8, 2014. Subsequently, according to United States Central Command and open source reporting, some 22 nations have joined the military coalition. The military campaign has two primary elements - airstrikes and training and equipping of local forces - both of which are designed to empower Iraqis and Syrians to take on the Islamic State while minimizing the number of U.S. and coalition "boots on the ground." According to the Department of Defense, the coalition has conducted upwards of 8,125 airstrikes, |8| destroyed 16,075 targets as of November 13, 2015; as of October 31, 2015, the United States spent $5 billion on counter-IS military operations. |9|
In terms of the legal basis for the coalition, several United Nations Security Council Resolutions—in particular, 2170, 2178 and 2199—call on UN member states to take a variety of steps (to include coalition activities such as countering terrorist financing, assisting with humanitarian relief, countering IS messaging and assisting with stabilization support), although these fall short of explicitly authorizing the use of military force against the Islamic State. Some coalition participants have cited the Iraqi Government's letter to the United Nations Security Council requesting defense assistance and stating that Iraq faces threats from IS safe havens in Syria as a further legal basis for participating in the military coalition. With respect to the U.S. contribution to the military campaign, some observers have argued that a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) is required; |10| the Obama Administration maintains that it already has the necessary legal basis to prosecute the campaign through the 2001 AUMF (P.L. 107-40), and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (2002 AUMF; P.L. 107-243). |11| Even so, U.S. Administration officials underscore that the military campaign is only one part of the overall effort to counter the Islamic State, asserting that success depends upon the ability to make progress in non-military areas. |12|
On September 16, 2015, General Lloyd Austin, Commander of United States Central Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, noting that U.S. and coalition efforts to train and equip Syrian soldiers to counter the Islamic State had produced only a handful of troops active on the battlefield. |13| Subsequently, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter decided to cancel the Syrian train and equip program as it was configured. |14| Instead, the United States is currently focusing on arming already existing anti-IS militias in Syria through, among other things, airdropping ammunition and equipment, |15| authorizing the deployment of Special Operations Forces to assist with logistics and planning, and coordinating U.S. operations with those of opposition militia groups. |16| In late October, the Administration reportedly began considering a number of different options for training and equipping local counter-IS forces. |17| Administration officials have described their intended overall approach to the redesigned program as "transactional" and performance-based, with Syrian beneficiaries receiving U.S. support as opportunities present themselves and relative to their effectiveness on the battlefield and the alignment of their actions with U.S. interests. |18|
The failures of the initial DOD Syria train and equip program, combined with the November 13 attacks on Paris, have led observers to question the overall efficacy of the overall U.S. strategic approach. While some analysts maintain that defeating the Islamic State will require, among other things, the injection of significant numbers of U.S. and coalition ground troops, |19| the Obama Administration maintains that doing so would be counter-productive. |20|
Coalition participation tends to be fluid, with each country contributing capabilities that are commensurate with their own national interests and comparative advantage. Since August 2015, several coalition participants have changed the roles, missions, and capabilities of the military forces they are applying to counter the Islamic State. Russia also initiated military operations in Syria, but it did not begin robustly targeting Islamic State forces until Russian authorities concluded in mid-November that a bomb had brought down a Russian airliner in Egypt in October 2015. Indeed, Russia's military operations in Syria to support the Asad regime appear to be independent of the global counter-IS coalition's activities.
France has conducted military operations alongside the United States to counter the Islamic State for over a year. From February 23 to April 18, 2015, it deployed the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the U.S. 5th Fleet's area of operations, from which French Super Etendard and Rafale fighter aircraft conducted airstrikes in Iraq. |21| It also used fighter aircraft forward deployed in the U.A.E. and Jordan to conduct strikes. |22| However, during this period, France limited its operations to Iraq, citing two primary constraints: the lack of a formal international legal mandate to pursue operations in Syria, and a desire not to inadvertently support the Asad regime.
French leaders changed their position in fall 2015. Responding to the refugee crisis |23| as well as to increased concerns that further attacks against France were being planned from IS strongholds, in early September 2015 France initiated reconnaissance missions in Syria. |24| In late September, citing France's legitimate right to self-defense, French military forces conducted airstrikes against targets in Syria, |25| focusing on training camps. In order to strike at an Islamic State source of income, it also targeted an oil and gas depot. |26|
In the wake of the November 13 attacks in Paris, President Hollande announced that France would intensify its military campaign against the Islamic State. On November 15, French fighter jets conducted their most aggressive airstrikes of the campaign thus far, striking a command center and training camp in the Islamic State's headquarters, Raqqa. |27| The airstrikes were coordinated with the United States and facilitated by the provision of U.S. intelligence and targeting information. |28| France will also triple the number of fighter jets conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State by redeploying the Charles de Gaulle into theater, although the decision to do so was finalized before the attacks at a defense council meeting on November 5, 2015. |29|
Since his Liberal Party won a parliamentary majority on October 19, Canada's new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has reiterated his intention to augment the outgoing Conservative government's commitment to countering the Islamic State. On October 20, Trudeau announced to the United States that Canada intended to withdraw its combat aircraft from the coalition, but that it would seek to accommodate some 25,000 Syrian refugees. |30| The Trudeau government has not indicated it will be reversing its decision in the wake of the Paris attacks. The timing of the withdrawal of combat aircraft is currently unclear. On November 17, Trudeau announced that Canada's training mission will be expanded, surpassing the current contingent of 69 soldiers based in northern Iraq. The details of that expanded mission are currently being coordinated with the United States. |31|
On September 30, 2015, Russia officially entered the conflict in Syria, conducting airstrikes. It had previously deployed some 600 marines to guard its air base in Lattakia, an Asad regime stronghold. |33| Further, a press report citing an unnamed U.S. official said that recent Russian shipments include tanks and artillery to protect the expanded Russian facilities, as well as armored personnel carriers, hundreds of naval infantry personnel, modular housing units to house about 1,500 people, and air traffic control equipment. |34| The entry of Russian military forces, and in particular close air support and combat aviation capabilities, into theater led the Obama Administration to conclude a detailed agreement on de-conflicting airspace between the two countries. |35|
Because of Moscow's long history and relationship with the Asad regime, Russia's strategic priorities in Syria appear to fundamentally differ from those of the U.S.-led counter-IS coalition, which has generally argued that Asad could not remain in power as a result of any settlement arrangements. These strategic differences have been manifest in Russia's military targeting priorities to date. Through mid-November, Russia had largely struck what it referred to as "terrorist" elements opposed to the Asad regime, including—but not limited to—the Islamic State. |36| As the Secretary General of NATO stated on November 17, "But what we have seen so far is that most of [Russian] military actions have been targeted at targets not in ISIL-controlled areas." |37| This targeting disposition may change; on November 17, Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Russian FSB stated that "we can unequivocally say" that the bombing of an Airbus A321 that carried Russian holidaymakers from Sharm el Sheikh to St. Petersberg "was a terrorist act." An Islamic State-affiliated group claimed responsibility. |38| The next day, Russian long-range bombers and sea-based cruise missiles attacked Raqqa. |39|
In July 2015, Turkey expanded its participation in the coalition by taking direct military action in Syria and allowing other coalition planes to utilize Turkish airspace and bases to conduct strikes on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Shortly after Turkey commenced military strikes against the Islamic State in Syria in late July, Turkey resumed hostilities with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), ending a cease fire that had been in place since March 2013. As Prime Minister Davutoglu said in September 2015, "by mounting operations against [IS] and the PKK at the same time, we also prevented the PKK from legitimizing itself." Turkey is reportedly worried about recent gains by the People's Protection Units (Kurdish acronym YPG), and about increased YPG closeness with the United States because of the YPG's emergence as arguably the most capable anti-IS ground force in Syria. Some observers speculate that Turkey is more concerned about containing Kurdish political aspirations (with their potential cross-border implications) than countering Islamist extremism at and within its borders. |41|
On July 31, 2015, at the request of the Iraqi government, NATO agreed to launch a military assistance program for Iraq, which will be based out of Jordan and Turkey, and "includes measures of support in seven priority areas: advice on security sector reform; countering improvised explosive devices, explosive ordnance disposal and de-mining; civil military planning; cyber defense; military medicine and medical assistance; military training; and civil emergency planning." |42| Teams are presently being sent to assess Iraqi needs. |43| NATO also deployed six Patriot missile defense systems to Turkey, |44| although they are scheduled to be withdrawn in December of this year unless NATO authorizes their continued presence.
The Paris terrorist attacks have raised the question as to whether the Alliance's "Article V" collective defense provision—which states that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all— should be invoked. |45| At present, this appears unlikely, especially given other NATO priorities, including combating Russian aggression in Central and Eastern Europe. Further, as one unnamed official observed, if France intended to request Article V support, it would have already done so. |46| According to the NATO Secretary General, while NATO allies are working to counter the Islamic State, much of that work falls outside NATO's purview:
There has been no request for invoking Article 5. But many NATO Allies have offered France support and help. And we are doing so in many different ways, not least by sharing intelligence, working more closely with France in their efforts to fight ISIL. |47|
Organizing and prosecuting a coalition campaign presents a variety of challenges in addition to the military task of defeating an opponent. In the first instance, without a single authority responsible for prioritizing and adjudicating between different multinational civilian and military lines of effort, different actors often work at cross-purposes without intending to do so. These coalition coordination challenges were demonstrated in recent military campaigns (particularly in Afghanistan). Exacerbating matters, other actors in the region—some of whom are coalition partners—have different, and often conflicting, longer-term regional geopolitical interests from those of the United States or other coalition members. This, in turn, may lead nations participating in the coalition to advance their goals and objectives in ways that might contradict each other. Finally, different participants in the coalition have different tolerances for risk, and therefore will determine "rules of engagement" (ROE), or "caveats" that can constrain the ability of military commanders from employing military force as they see fit. While navigable, all these factors can make it considerably more difficult to consolidate gains and achieve campaign success.
This brief report offers two figures. The first is a chart depicting participants in the military campaign, and what specifically each country is contributing in terms of military forces, according to open source data compiled by CRS and information provided by United States Central Command at the time of writing. The second maps the training and capacity building bases across Iraq, and key nations operating out of those bases as reported by United States Central Command and supplemented with open source reporting.
This report update reflects significant changes regarding the coalition's composition since August 3, 2015.
TRAINING MISSION CONTRIBUTIONS AIRSTRIKE CONTRIBUTIONS COUNTRY FOR IRAQ FOR SYRIA FOR IRAQ FOR SYRIA Australia 500ª N/A 6 hornet fighters, a tanker aircraft, and airborne control plane N/A Bahrain N/A N/A N/A Unspecified number of planes Belgium 35 N/A Mission discontinuedb N/A Canada 69 N/A Announced withdrawal of 6 CF-18 Hornet fighter jets, although timing unclear. Also unclear whether! CC 150 Polaris Air Transport, 2 CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft will remain in theater. Denmark 120 N/A N/A N/A France 200 N/A 6 Dassault Rafale M multi role fighters, 6 Mirage 2000D aircraft, 1 Ravitailement C135 aircraft, 1 Atlantic 2 Maritime Patrol aircraft, 1 cassard-class air defense frigate. Charles DeGaulle aircraft carrier includes 26 additional fighter aircraft (pending arrival). Finland 47 N/A N/A N/A United Kingdom 275 N/A 630 personnel; unspecified number of Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 Aircraft Unspecified number of planesd Germany 100 N/A N/A N/A Italy 350e N/A 190 Air Force personnel, 4 Tornado IDS (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance), 1 Boeing KC-767A (Air-to-Air Refuelling), and 2 Predator UAV (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance). N/A Jordan N/A Training grounds Unspecified number of planes 20 F-16 aircraftf NATO Unspecified number of troops N/A N/A N/A New Zealand 143 N/A N/A N/A Netherlands 130 N/A 250 personnel, 6 F-16 aircraft (plus 2 reserve aircraft)g N/A Norway 120 N/A N/A N/A Portugal 30 N/A N/A N/A Qatar N/A Training grounds N/A Unspecified number of planes Saudi Arabia N/A Training grounds N/A Unspecified number of planes Spain 300 N/A N/A N/A Sweden 35h N/A N/A N/A Turkey N/A Training grounds N/A Long-range artillery, unspecified number of planesi United Arab Emirates N/A N/A N/A 8 F-16 aircraftj United States 3,550 700k Unspecified, but largest number of aircraft and personnel Total 5,954l 700
Sources: United States Central Command data, augmented by data gathered through open source reports.
Notes: Country contributions are approximate due to rotations in and out of theater. These numbers are subject to rapid change based on changing circumstances.
ª Australia recently announced that it would send 330 extra troops on a two year mission to train Iraqi soldiers, with about 200 soldiers in Iraq prior to that announcement.
b. Belgium's contribution to the airstrikes against ISIL ended June 30, 2015, due to financial constraints. Six Belgian F-16 fighters spent nine months in Jordan.
c. France began conducting ground-based airstrikes against Syrian targets in September 2015. France's capacity to conduct airstrikes will increase when the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier arrives in theater.
d. On July 17 2015, the Ministry of Defense confirmed that British pilots had taken part in military strikes in Syria, despite the fact that Parliament voted two years ago against military action there.
e. These Carabineri troops perform police training tasks.
f. Up to 20 F-16 aircraft participated in airstrikes against ISIL in response to the killing of a Jordanian pilot. It is unclear if this many F-16's participate in regular airstrikes against ISIL.
g. It is unclear if all of these aircraft are for combat sorties against ISIL or if they are force protection for Dutch ground forces.
h. The Swedish Parliament approved 35 troops to be sent to Iraq, but have stated that they are willing to raise that number to 120.
i. Based on a recent agreement struck between the United States and Turkey on July 23, 2015.
j. The number of F-16's is based off of press photos of the UAE squadron deployed in Jordan.
k. The United States has pledged 400 to 700 troops to train Syrian forces. It is unclear how many forces are currently in place.
l. Based off of the data in this chart; not including the unspecified number of troops contributed by NATO.
m. Seven Danish F16 aircraft were redeployed to Denmark for refitting and refurbishment in late August 2015. It is unclear whether, and when, they will be sent back to theater. Denmark also contributes a C-130J.
n. According to press reports, Canada will be increasing its troop levels for the training mission.
Source: United States Central Command and Open Source Reporting.
[Source: By Kathleen J. McInnis, Congressional Research Service, R44135, Washington D.C., 18Nov15. Kathleen J. McInnis is an Analyst in International Security.]
3. Precise figures on participating states are difficult to determine, as different governments report different figuresFor example, the United Kingdom reports that 63 nations participate (https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/isil-uk-government-response—3) while the United States maintains 65 countries are currently participating (http://www.state.gov/s/seci/index.htm). The variation in numbers may be due to the fact that coalition participation tends to change over time. [Back]
4. U.S. Department of State, "Joint statement issued by partners at the Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting," December 3, 2014. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/12/234627.htm [Back]
5. Remarks by General John Allen, Special Presidental Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter-ISIL, Doha, Qatar, June 3, 2015. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/events/2015/06/01-2015-us-islamic-world-forum/060315brookingsdoha.pdf [Back]
9. U.S. Department of Defense, "Operation Inherent Resolve: Targeted Operations against ISIL Terrorists," Available at http://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0814_Inherent-Resolve Accessed November 16, 2015. [Back]
10. See, for example, Richard Fontaine & Vance Serchuk, "Can We Finally Get An AUMF Right? As Congress debates the war authorization against Islamic State, it should learn from past mistakes" Politico, February 15, 2015; Paul Kane, "Congress Split Over Ways to Face the Islamic State," The Washington Post, February 22, 2015. [Back]
14. Michael D. Shear, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, "Obama Administration Ends Effort to Train Syrians to Combat ISIS," The New York Times, October 9, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/10/world/middleeast/pentagon-program-islamic-state-syria.html?_r=0 [Back]
16. Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, "Syria: Obama Authorizes Boots on Ground to Fight ISIS," CNN, October 30, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/30/politics/syria-troops-special-operations-forces/ [Back]
20. The White House Office of the Press Secretary, "Press Conference by President Obama -Antalya, Turkey" November 16, 2015. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/16/press-conference-president-obama-antalya-turkey [Back]
21. United States Central Command, "French, U.S. Navies Integrate Under Operation Inherent Resolve," April 10, 2015. http://www.centcom.mil/en/news/articles/french-us-navies-integrate-under-operation-inherent-resolve [Back]
22. Frédéric Lert, "France to Deploy Charles de Gaulle Again for Anti-IS Strikes," IHS Janes 360, November 12, 2015, http://www.janes.com/article/55939/france-to-deploy-charles-de-gaulle-again-for-anti-is-strikes [Back]
24. "France Could Launch Air Strikes on ISIS in Syria: Hollande" Reuters, September 7, 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/france-could-launch-air-strikes-isis-hollande-n422871 [Back]
26. Alissa J. Rubin and Anne Barnard, "France Strikes ISIS Targets in Syria in Retaliation for Attacks" The New York Times, November 15, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/world/europe/paris-terror-attack.html?_r=0 [Back]
30. DeNeen L. Brown, "Canada's New Leader to Pull Planes from Anti-Islamic State Coalition," The Washington Post, October 20, 201. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/meet-canadas-new-prime-minister-justin-trudeau/2015/10/20/41dea584-772a-11e5-bc80-9091021aeb69_story.html [Back]
31. Bill Curry and Steven Chase, "Canada to send More Military Trainers to Iraq in Battle against IS: Trudeau," The Globe and Mail, November 17th, 2015. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-to-increase-number-of-military-trainers-in-iraq-trudeau/article27291475/ [Back]
33. Steven Lee Myers and Eric Schmitt, "Russian Military Uses Syria as Proving Ground, and West Takes Notice," The New York Times, October 14, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/world/middleeast/russian-military-uses-syria-as-proving-ground-and-west-takes-notice.html [Back]
34. Agence France Presse, "Russia Sends Tanks, Artillery to Syria: U.S. Official," September 14, 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/russia-sends-tanks-artillery-syria-us-official-190705106.html [Back]
35. Helene Cooper, "A Semantic Downgrade for U.S.-Russian Talks about Operations in Syria," The New York Times, October 7, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/08/world/middleeast/a-semantic-downgrade-for-us-russian-talks-about-operations-in-syria.html [Back]
37. "Doorstep Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Upon His Arrival at the European Council," 17 November, 2015. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_124518.htm [Back]
44. North Atlantic Treaty Organization, "NATO Support to Turkey." http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_92140.htm [Back]
45. Krishnadev Calamur, "Will NATO Respond to the Attacks on Paris? If France invokes Article 5 of the alliance's charter, it will launch a joint response against the Islamic State" The Atlantic, November 15, 2015. Available at http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/11/nato-paris-attack-article-5/416097/ Note: Article V was invoked after the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the United States. [Back]
46. Euractive.com "France 'at war' Inaugurates EU's Mutual Defense Clause," November 17, 2015. http://www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/france-war-inaugurates-eus-mutual-defence-clause-319531 [Back]
47. "Doorstep Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Upon His Arrival at the European Council," 17 November, 2015. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_124518.htm [Back]
|This document has been published on 11Jan16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|