Mosul, Iraq
Mosul, Iraq Credit: The U.S. Army/Flickr

During the campaign, including in one of the debates, Donald Trump was highly critical of the U.S. role in the efforts to capture Mosul from ISIL. He expressed dismay that we had advertised our intent to liberate the city. Once the battle began, he was quick to judge it a failure. But, since he’s been commander in chief I have not been able to detect the slightest interest or even awareness that there is fighting going on in Mosul or that he is supposed to be leading the soldiers we have deployed there:

U.S. military officials frequently point out that the Mosul campaign, which resumed Thursday after a two-week lull, is Iraqi-led. That often means U.S. servicemembers are acting in an advisory role far from the front lines, insulated on bases with blast walls, concertina wire and guard towers.

But the soldiers of Apache Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment are living in cramped quarters in a safe house here, less than 12 miles from the forward line of troops. They share a muddy compound with soldiers of the Iraqi army’s elite Golden Division, one of the fiercest fighting and hardest-hit units in the fight for the country’s second-largest city.

The soldiers’ first mission is force security at the forward base, known as a tactical assembly area. But the company, part of the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, is also advising local police in the town (Bartella, Iraq), which was liberated from Islamic State fighters some two months ago but hasn’t yet been cleared of all booby traps.

That description is already nearly a month old. Trump’s presidency is already a week old, and if he knows or cares anything about Apache Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, he has fooled me. He most definitely cares more about the size of his inaugural crowd.

And he probably hasn’t even considered that the Apache Company is partnering with folks who would kill them if they tried to steal Iraq’s oil and that aren’t feeling too friendly about travel bans that apply to them or the idea of moving our embassy in Israel onto disputed territory in Jerusalem. Apache Company’s commander in chief just announced in the White House that torturing terrorists (always Muslims in our discourse) “works absolutely.”

This kind of leadership, at once absent, provocative, and crippling to our alliances, is doing no favors to our people in the field. And losing the entire State Department leadership dedicated to consular affairs and embassy protection has endangered our diplomats and intelligence officers, too.

Let me know when the president acknowledges that we have people in the Mosul fight.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at