Obama authorises deployment of additional US soldiers to Iraq
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has received permission from the president Barack Obama to send additional military personnel to Iraq to support the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Pentagon will now deploy up to 450 soldiers to expand the US advise-and-assist mission at the Al-Taqaddum air base in Al Habbaniyah, in support of the Iraqi Government, taking the total number of US troops serving in the country to up to 3,550.
Some of the soldiers earmarked for deployment to the Taqaddum airbase are already in Iraq, and will be repositioned, while the rest will come from outside of the country.
Undisclosed DoD officials said the additional soldiers will assist with planning, integration, and support of Iraqi security, and tribal forces as they fight to push ISIL away from the Ramadi and Fallujah corridor.
Scheduled to commence in the next two months, the advise-and-assist operations will provide the Iraqi Army with advice on matters, such as deploying troops, enhancing logistic systems, increasing intelligence capabilities, and managing administrative processes.
DoD spokesman Army colonel Steve Warren said the presence at Taqaddum Air Base will provide immediate advice and assistance to the 8th Iraqi Army Division, and will also facilitate connections between Anbar province's Sunni tribes, the Iraqi government, and military.
Warren said: "We believe it will motivate additional Sunni personnel to simply join the Iraqi security forces.
"We believe it will help us identify Sunni militia tribal elements that, when all the conditions are right, we will be able to train."
According to the DoD officials, the move does not represent a change in mission, but will provide the Pentagon with another location to conduct similar activities in more areas across Iraq as the US troops continue to perform in an advisory, training, and supporting role.
US forces are not conducting offensive ground combat operations in Iraq.
Warren said the Taqaddum Air Base will not be used as another Building Partner Capacity site, like Besmayah, al-Asad, and Irbil, where US advisors teach Iraqi soldiers basic combat tasks, such as weapons qualification.