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article imageObama administration may send more troops to Iraq

By Ken Hanly     Mar 31, 2016 in Politics
Baghdad - At a recent new briefing Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford said Obama will decide soon whether to accept proposals to increase the number of ground troops in Iraq.
Dunford claims that nominally 3,800 US troops are in Iraq now. However, this number does not cover those who are in Iraq only on a "temporary" basis. Pentagon officials concede that the actual number deployed is closer to 5,000. According to a U.S. diplomatic deal with Iraq, the US will maintain only a total of 3,870 troops in Iraq at any one time. However, the U.S. seems to be increasing the number of troops for the last few months without changing the deal or officially counting more.
On March 19 Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed in an Islamic State rocket attack on Fire Base Bell in northern Iraq. Until Cardin was killed military officials had not acknowledged that the base existed. It was part of the temporary deployment of added troops and was created just several days before the attack. It was near the front lines and the Iraqi Army division headquarters in the town of Makhmour.
General Dunford has brought new proposals to Defense Secretary Ash Carter who will then discuss them with the president. In a press briefing Dunford said: “We have a series of recommendations that we will be discussing with the president in the coming weeks to further enable our support for the Iraqi security forces. The secretary and I both believe that there will be an increase to the U.S. forces in Iraq in the coming weeks but that decision hasn’t been made." The extra troops would help the Iraqi forces in a major offensive to be launched against the Islamic State to retake Mosul.
Defense Minister Carter had told Congress in December that the administration was willing to send more combat advisers and helicopters to Iraq if the Iraqi government requested the help. At the time, the Iraqi army declined the offer because several Shiite militias objected to any additional US presence. We should know in a matter of weeks if the US is intending to become even more involved in the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq.
More about US Iraq relations, Islamic State in Yemen, General Dunford
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