U.S. Army Major General Gary Volesky says recent terrorist attacks in the US and Europe are some indication that the so-called Islamic State is losing in Iraq.
Members of the Fort Campbell 101st Airborne Division deployed to Iraq in March as part of the 18-nation Combined Joint Forces to train Iraqi Security Forces.
In a live Facebook video from Baghdad Thursday, Volesky says morale is good as forces prepare to retake the ISIS stronghold of Mosul. He says they’ve made great strides towards securing key cities and strongholds controlled by ISIS over the last several months.
“You know, you look at their level of communication on social media, it dropped by 45 percent, because we’re just crushing them," said Volesky. "And that’s why they’re really going to these attacks out in Brussels, Paris, California – they’re trying to export it to keep people’s attention off of what they’re losing here in Iraq. And it's not any better for them in Syria.
"Every time they have a big battlefield loss like they did in Fallujah, they try to do a high-profile attack somewhere else to deflect people's attention that they are losing in Iraq. We expected that's what they'd transition to, as an Al-Qaeda-like organization that relies on terrorism and insurgency. Their idea of what they say is Caliphate... it's gonna be nonexistent here pretty soon."
This is the second major deployment for the 101st within the last year, having returned in February from a five-month deployment in Liberia to assist in the fight against Ebola. Volesky says while troops may return home before 2017, things are always bound to change.
“When we were in Liberia we expected to be there 12 months, we got to come home after six because the mission and conditions changed," said Volesky. "So we’re telling everybody that deploys that it’s a nine month rotation. And if the conditions change the chain of command will make a determination of what capability they need to have stay and what capability can redeploy.”