Obama authorises deployment of 1500 additional troops to Iraq

Written By Michael Maunda on Saturday, November 8, 2014 | 10:40 AM


WASHINGTON – United States President Barack Obama has authorised Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to deploy up to 1,500 additional troops to Iraq, nearly doubling the American forces there as part of the strategy to fight Islamic State militants who control parts of Iraq, as well as neighboring Syria.

According to Pentagon, Navy press Secretary Rear Adm John Kirby the American troops would serve in non-combat roles by joining the existing advise-and-assist mission and initiating a comprehensive training effort for Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The defense secretary recommended the troop increase following a request by Iraqs government and an assessment of Iraqi units by US Central Command, Kirby said.

The decision also was based on an evaluation of the progress made by Iraqi security forces in the field, and it comes in concert with the development of a coalition campaign plan to defend key areas and go on the offensive against Islamic State - also known as ISIL or IS.

US Central Command will establish two expeditionary advise-and-assist operations centers in locations outside of Baghdad and Irbil to provide support for the Iraqis at the brigade headquarters level and above, he said. The admiral said that about 630 of the newly authorised troops will be assigned to the expanded advise-and-assist mission

In addition, Centcom will establish several new training sites across Iraq that will accommodate the training of 12 Iraqi brigades - nine from the Iraqi army and three Kurdish peshmerga brigades, Kirby said. The remainder of the troops, about 870, will be assigned to this mission in various roles, including logistics and force protection, he said.

Kirby also said that several hundred coalition troops will join US personnel at these locations to help build Iraqi capacity and capability. A number of coalition nations have agreed to contribute personnel to the training effort, he said, noting that Hagel met today with Danish Defense Minister Nicolai Wammen, and the Danes have agreed to provide 120 trainers.

The training will be funded through a request for a $1.6 billion fund that the administration will submit to the Congress, as well as from the Iraqi government, the admiral said. It will take about two months to prepare the training sites, he noted, while the training itself is expected to be six to seven months in length.

Ultimately, these Iraqi forces, when fully trained, will enable Iraq to better defend its citizens, its borders, and its interests against the threat of Islamic State, Kirby said, and it is perfectly in keeping with the mission that we’ve been assigned there to assist the Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga forces again as they improve their capability against Islamic State.