Washington (AFP) - The Iraqi military's hard-fought victory over the Islamic State group in Mosul marks a defining moment not just for them. It is also a key win for the US doctrine behind it.
Instead of putting large numbers of American boots on the ground, the US-led strategy in Iraq and Syria has been a non-stop air campaign combined with continual training and advising for proxy local forces.
Pentagon officials say the outcome is clear -- three years after collapsing as flag-waving jihadists swept across their country, Iraq's security forces have become a battle-hardened army that prevailed in a brutal urban fight.
"Training works," said one senior US military officer who was deployed to Iraq from 2015-'16. It "has enabled the Iraqis to take back their country."
It's a far cry from when then-Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said in May 2015 that the Iraqi military "showed no will to fight."