The U.S. commander in chief has authorized Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to deploy to Iraq up to 1,500 additional U.S. personnel over the coming months.
According to a Department of Defense statement issued Friday, the additional forces will be deployed in a non-combat role, to expand the U.S. advise and assist mission and initiate a comprehensive training effort for Iraqi forces.
Secretary Hagel made this recommendation to President Obama based on the request of the Government of Iraq, U.S. Central Command’s assessment of Iraqi units, the progress Iraqi security forces have made in the field, and in concert with the development of a coalition campaign plan to defend key areas and go on the offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The U.S. Central Command will establish two expeditionary advise and assist operations centers, in locations outside of Baghdad and Erbil, to provide support for the Iraqis at the brigade headquarters level and above. These centers will be supported by an appropriate array of force protection capabilities.
“Over the coming weeks, as we finalize the training site locations, the United States will work with coalition members to determine how many U.S. and coalition personnel will be required at each location for the training effort,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby in the statement.
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, according to the statement.
Photo courtesy: U.S. Department of Defense