Top U.S. defense officials admitted Wednesday Washington was partly to blame for the initially slow Iraqi response to the Islamic State group, after previously laying the lion's share of blame for recent setbacks on Baghdad's doorstep.
Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter admitted U.S. forces didn't respond quickly enough when the Islamic State group first launched their massive incursion into Iraq in 2014.
He conceded deliveries of military equipment to Iraqi forces were “sometimes delayed by bureaucracy in Baghdad, but occasionally also in Washington."
"That is why we are now expediting delivery of essential equipment and material, like anti-tank capabilities and counter-(improvised explosive device) equipment, to the Iraqi security forces -- including Kurdish and Sunni tribal forces," Carter said, according to CNN.
The concessions come around a month after Carter blamed Iraqi forces for the Islamic state group's lightning offensive, claiming government troops lacked the “will to fight.”
“They were not outnumbered, but in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. And yet they failed to fight,” Carter said, referring to the Islamic State group's recent capture of the city of Ramadi.
The comments sparked fierce criticism from Baghdad, though Carter did at one point reiterate claims that poor Iraqi morale was largely to blame for Ramadi's fall.
Speaking alongside Carter, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated there were limits to U.S. operational capacity in Iraq.
“Enduring stability cannot be imposed from the outside in. Stability must be cultivated from the inside out,” he said.
He continued by talking up the recently announced “lily pad” strategy, which could see a network of U.S. military outposts being established near the frontlines with the Islamic State group.
However, committee member Republican Representative John Kline lashed out at Dempsey, arguing the strategy appeared incomplete.
“We really don't have a strategy. You've articulated a piece of what would be sort of a strategy,” he said.