When the US military set out to combat ISIS in Iraq in the mid-2010s, it did so determined to operate “by, with, and through” partner forces. That approach would prove to have advantages in the case of Operation Inherent Resolve. But it can also prove deeply challenging.

In this episode of the Irregular Warfare Podcast, hosts Ben Jebb and Matt Moellering are joined by two guests to examine both the merits and the pitfalls of working by, with, and through partner forces. Brigadier General Pat Work served as the commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Inherent Resolve, and Mr. Jeff Martini is a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation and coauthor of a 2022 report on US ground force contributions in the fight against ISIS in Iraq.

Together, they discuss the events that led to American reengagement in Iraq and the conditions that encouraged an approach that placed partnered forces at the center of operational plans. They go on to dissect the operation and its effectiveness before turning their attention to the question of how the United States can best prepare for future partnered operations in global operational environment characterized by strategic competition.

You can listen to the full episode below, and be sure to subscribe to the Irregular Warfare Podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcherTuneInSpotify, or your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss an episode!

Image credit: Staff Sgt. Jason Hull, US Army