Mosul: What the Decade’s Largest Battle Says About the Future of War

Illustration by Ben Watson

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Here’s how Western-backed Iraqi soldiers helped break the Islamic State’s grip on a city of more than 1 million people — and what we can learn from it.

The world’s largest military operation in nearly 15 years has been going on since October 2016: the drive on Mosul, Iraq. 

In this special featureDefense One’s Ben Watson outlines the tactical innovations that U.S.-backed coalition forces used to break the Islamic State’s grip on a city of more than one million people. An animated battle map lays out the the ebb and flow of forces through the city. Its many lessons are revealed through interactive graphics, data, audio, video, and before-and-after satellite imagery. 

Listen to voices from the battle: Watson spoke with key troops on the ground, including Brig. Gen. Rick Uribe, deputy commanding general for U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, and retired U.S. Army Special Forces Col. David Witty, who spent years training Iraqi special forces. These conversations are woven into the story via SoundCloud. 

The feature contains 4 key parts:

Read the full analysis of the battle for Mosul and its impact on the war against ISIS, here


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