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A “failure of leadership and tactics” by the Iraqi security forces is partly to blame for the capture of the city of Ramadi by ISIS, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday.
Iraqi security forces abandoned American equipment when they fled, including dozens of vehicles, a half-dozen tanks and armored personnel carriers and a “small handful” of artillery pieces, said the spokesman, Col. Steve Warren.
He said most of the equipment would be inoperable.
And Warren said that the United States is confident that Iraq can retake the city, but he cautioned: “It will be difficult.” That echoed a statement on Monday by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The militants’ capture of Ramadi, about 70 miles outside Baghdad, over the weekend was a humiliating loss for the security forces, which fled the city. The Iraqi military had enjoyed victories against ISIS in recent months.
It also led some to question the Obama administration’s strategy of helping retain the Iraqi military, launching airstrikes against ISIS targets and pushing for reconciliation between the Shiite-led Iraqi government and disenfranchised Sunnis.
“The president’s plan isn’t working,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “It’s time for him to come up with overarching strategy to defeat the ongoing terrorist threat.”
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Obama is open to suggestions.
“It’s something that he’s talking about with his national security team just about every day, including today,” he said.