In Iraq, the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Counter-ISIL has seen significant successes in pushing the brutal extremist group out of regions it had occupied.
“But we’ve also seen areas like in Ramadi where they’re displaced in one place and then they come back in, in another, said President Barack Obama. “And they’re nimble, and they’re aggressive, and they’re opportunistic. So one of the areas where we’re going to have to improve is the speed at which we’re training Iraqi forces,” he said:
“Where we’ve trained Iraqi forces directly and equipped them, and we have a train-and-assist posture, they operate effectively. Where we haven’t, morale, lack of equipment, et cetera, may undermine the effectiveness of Iraqi security forces. So we want to get more Iraqi security forces trained, fresh, well-equipped and focused.”
On June 10th, the White House announced that President Obama authorized the deployment of some 450 additional U.S. military personnel to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province. This decision followed a request from Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi.
These additional U.S. troops will not serve in a combat role. Their job is to train, advise and assist Iraqi troops, thus helping to build the capacity of Iraqi forces and local tribal fighters. The training is designed to improve the ability of the troops to plan, lead, and conduct operations against ISIL under the command of Iraq’s Prime Minister.
At the same time, to ensure that these ground forces have the equipment needed to effectively fight ISIL, the United States is sending, as quickly as possible, essential equipment and materiel to Iraq. A portion of the supplies will go to Sunni tribal fighters and Kurdish Peshmerga troops operating under Iraqi command.
“The final point that I emphasized to Prime Minister Abadi is the political agenda of inclusion remains as important as the military fight that’s out there,” said President Obama. “If Sunnis, Kurds, and Shia all feel as if their concerns are being addressed, and that operating within a legitimate political structure can meet their need for security, prosperity, non-discrimination, then we’re going to have much easier time.”