Monday, March 28, 2016

More US Troops Headed to Iraq in Push to Retake Mosul

Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said Friday that he expected more U.S. troops would be sent to Iraq in the coming weeks to support an offensive to retake the ISIS stronghold in Mosul.
Dunford said that he and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter "both believe that there will be an increase in U.S. forces in Iraq in coming weeks, but that decision hasn't been made" yet by President Barack Obama.
"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 chairman said.
Dunford did not say how many additional troops would be deployed, and he refused to say how many were now in Iraq beyond stating that the number currently exceeded the authorized level of 3,870 approved by Obama and agreed to by the Baghdad government.
However, Dunford denied published reports that the number of U.S. troops now in Iraq exceeded 5,000. He echoed previous remarks by defense officials who said that troop levels routinely went above the authorized 3,870 as troop rotations overlapped and troops were sent to Iraq temporarily on special assignments.
Dunford cited the deployment into Iraq of about 200 Marines from an artillery battery of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge as an example of the type of support the Iraqi Security Forces will need to retake Mosul in northwestern Iraq.