Iraqi army officers and soldiers who had been fighting ISIS militants for a week in Saglawyah and the village of Al-Sijar in the country’s western province of Anbar were in dire need of supplies and ammunition. Unfortunately for those troops, Iraqi pilots accidentally dropped supplies to the wrong army.
A Hakim Al-Zamili, a lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament, told NBC News that the supplies, which included ammunition, were dropped into an area controlled by ISIS.
“Some pilots, instead of dropping these supplies over the area of the Iraqi army, threw it over the area that is controlled by ISIS fighters. Those soldiers were in deadly need of these supplies, but because of the wrong plans of the commanders in the Iraqi army and lack of experience of the pilots, we in a way or another helped ISIS fighters to kill our soldiers.”
A brigadier-general in Iraq’s Defense Ministry, who declined to be named, confirmed with NBC News that the incident, which occurred on Sept. 19 did take place.
“Yes, that’s what had happened…[pilots] do not have enough experience…they are all young and new.”
Both Al-Zamili and the brigadier-general said there would be an investigation to determine the cause of the blunder.
The Huffington Post notes that the reliability of the Iraqi army has been in question for quite some time. President Obama has said he does not want to put U.S. forces on the ground in a combat role to fight militants and instead will rely on partners in those countries. But Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey recently said that about half of the Iraqi army is incapable of effectively working with the United States to battle the Islamic State, while the other half needs help rebuilding with additional training and equipment.
The most recent error is one that will most certainly bring the efficiency of the Iraqi army into the forefront again. This particular incident demonstrates how devastating one mistake can be for troops on the ground fighting ISIS. Now the already suffering troops will be facing an enemy who was replenished by their very army.
The Iraqi army is not facing the fight completely alone. The US has partnered with many different countries in the area in an effort to increase air strikes to disable ISIS militants. President Obama has said he does not want to put US forces on the ground in a combat role to fight militants and instead will rely on partners in those countries backed by US support. However, will the recent events make Obama reevaluate his plan of action?