President Authorizes Additional Troops for Counter-ISIL Effort
By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2014 As part of the strategy to defeat terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, President Barack Obama authorized Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to deploy up to 1,500 additional troops to Iraq, the Pentagon press secretary announced today.
Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said the troops will 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 Iraq’s government and an assessment of Iraqi units by U.S. Central Command, Kirby said.
Based on Evaluation of Iraqi Forces’ Progress
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 ISIL terrorists, the admiral said.
“U.S. 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 about 630 of the newly authorized 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 added.
While site surveys are still being conducted, a senior administration official speaking on background said the training sites likely will be located in Anbar, Irbil, Diyalah and Baghdad provinces. The locations reflect the geographic areas in which the Iraqi security forces want to make progress, the official added.
Coalition Forces Will Participate
Several hundred coalition troops will join U.S. personnel at these locations to help build Iraqi capacity and capability, Kirby said. 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 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 ISIL,” 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 ISIL.”