US partner Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service takes the fight to ISIS
First, a bit of background on the CTS. I will cite retired Colonel David Witty, my mentor and former boss; he wrote an excellent piece on the history of the CTS for Brookings Institute last year that I will reference in the next paragraph. If you’re interested, you can read his paper here.
The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service is an independent, ministerial level organization separate from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior. Created by the US as a precision counter-terrorism force, a domestic national mission unit, the CTS, due in large part to its superior leadership and training, remains at the heart of US strategies in the Middle East that aim to develop an indigenous capacity to combat insurgents and terrorists.
From mid-2013 to early 2014 I served as the commander of a Special Forces detachment that was on the ground with the ISOF as advisors as ISIS emerged and subsequently steamrolled the Iraqi Army. With ISIS closing in on Baghdad, the CTS was activated. That morning when I walked into Major General Fadhil Barwari’s office, he informed me that he and 1st ISOF (CTS’s premier brigade) were headed to the front lines.
For the next three months, we watched while our brothers in the CTS were thrown at the problem, with the frantic direction to stop ISIS from taking Baghdad. And stop them CTS did, but this was not without incredible sacrifice. You see, CTS was not, and is not, equipped for this fight. They were a precision counterterrorism force designed for raids, not force-on-force street fighting. When I left in late February, handing off the mission to a good friend of mine from my Infantry and Special Forces Qualification Course days, I told him I knew CTS was in for more hard fighting in the months and years ahead.
Now, in my capacity as a Spirit of America field rep, I continue to work to support the critical work of the CTS, and I can see the direct impact our assistance has on the ground. To date Spirit of America helped establish, and automate, a medical records system for injured ISOF soldiers recovering from injuries sustained on the front line. Most recently, Isaac, Jim, and I hand-delivered tourniquets to MG Fadhil Barwari, Commander of the 1st Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade of the CTS. These tourniquets will save lives, and it is because of donor support that we can provide these critical life-saving devices.
But, more work needs to be done to assist these wounded warriors. American SOF has assisted CTS in the establishment of their own rehabilitation clinic to take care of the warriors that lead the fight against ISIS. American Special Operations Forces and military doctors are developing a plan with CTS to increase the capacity and capabilities of CTS medical care. The efforts include training in patient administration, rehabilitative surgery, and expanded physical therapy. The next step is the renovation and equipping of the facility provided by CTS to provide the elite warriors of CTS the quality medical support they deserve as they defend their country and support the global fight against ISIS.
Stay tuned as we continue to develop these concepts with US Special Operations advisors and their Iraqi partners, and join me in saluting the tremendous courage and commitment of my Iraqi brothers.
Project Manager – Middle East