The Obama administration announced on June 10 that 450 U.S. soldiers will be sent to Iraq’s Anbar province to assist the Iraqi military in fighting the increasingly hostile and powerful Islamic State group.
The decision by the president follows a tumultuous two weeks in Iraq where Islamic State group has claimed victories in major cities in Iraq. The fall of Ramadi to the terrorist organization was a high-profile event and the Obama administration was heavily criticized for not assisting Iraqi forces in their battle to hold the city.
“The president made this decision after a request from (Iraqi) Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and upon the recommendation” of U.S. military strategists, the White House said in a statement.
Speaking from Germany earlier this week, the president admitted his administration does not have a “complete” strategy to combat the rising Islamic State group in the Middle East, Fox News reported.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner supported the president’s new initiative, but members of the president’s administration still remain unsure of his agenda. Obama’s former military intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said on June 10 there is “no clear U.S. policy” in Iraq and Syria, the two nations in the Middle East where Islamic State group has become most powerful.
In the new plan, U.S.-led training sites in Iraq would increase from four to five, allowing faster training for the Iraqi army. In this scenario, many of the soldiers would be from Sunni tribes, America’s longtime allies in Iraq. Iraq's leadership is mostly made up of Shiite Muslims.
Currently, 3,100 U.S. troops are in Iraq specifically to train the nation’s military in fighting their own battles. This task is daunting and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the army has “no will to fight” its enemies and relies heavily on American forces to do the work.
“These new advisers will work to build capacity of Iraqi forces, including local tribal fighters, to improve their ability to plan, lead and conduct operations against (Islamic State group) in eastern Anbar under the command of the prime minister,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “This train, advise and assist mission builds on lessons learned during the past several months and is just one aspect of our commitment to support the Iraqi Security Forces.”
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