President Barack Obama has authorized the military to send up to 1,500 additional personnel to Iraq for training and assistance of Iraqi forces with the aim to enforce fight against the Islamic State (IS), according to a statement released by U.S. Department of Defense Friday.
Obama has authorized Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to deploy to Iraq up to 1,500 additional U.S. personnel over the coming months, in a non-combat role, to expand American military’s advising and assisting mission and initiate a comprehensive training effort for Iraqi forces, DOD Press Secretary John Kirby said in the statement.
Hagel made this recommendation to 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 IS, said Kirby.
U.S. Central Command will establish two expeditionary advising and assisting operations centers, in locations outside of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, and Erbil, to provide support for the Iraqis at the brigade headquarters level and above, the official said, adding that these centers will be supported by an appropriate array of force protection capabilities. It will also establish several sites across Iraq that will accommodate the training of 12 Iraqi brigades, specifically nine Iraqi army and three Peshmerga brigades.
These sites will be located in northern, western, and southern Iraq, he said, adding that coalition partners will join U.S. personnel at these locations to help build Iraqi capacity and capability.
“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 Kirby, who stressed these Iraqi forces, when fully trained, will enable Iraq to better defend its citizens, its borders, and its interests against the threat of IS.
“This effort is in keeping with our overarching strategy to work with partners on the ground to destroy IS,” Kirby added.
U.S. and partner-nation military forces have been continuing attacks on IS forces in Syria and Iraq.
A statement of U.S. Central Command said Friday that fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 14 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq over the past two days, destroying more than a dozen of IS fighting positions, artillery pieces and weapons stockpiles, as well as other facilities, which has helped to further limit the terrorist group’s ability to project power and conduct operations.