President Obama recently approved a Pentagon request to send more than 600 additional troops to Iraq. These extra troops are to help local forces stand against the Islamic State threat that lingers in Iraq and Syria.
These additional troops will raise the total number of U.S. service members in Iraq to over 5,000 in total. Previously, the U.S. had about 4,600 troops in Iraq per the Pentagon.
This will be the 11th troop increase in Iraq since June 2014.
Per the Pentagon, the additional forces are going to be diverted to two primary airbases: al-Asad Airbase, which lies northwest of Ramadi, and Qayyarah West Airfield, which is 25 miles south of Mosul.
These new additions to the military presence will be expected to help with “logistics and maintenance” as well as the “train, advise and assist, mission,” but the troops will remain off the front lines, Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters at the Pentagon. The al-Asad airbase operatives are slated to help conduct night operations to increase the “agility” to support Iraqi troops ahead of the Mosul operations.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, has been held by the Islamic State (ISIS) since June 2014.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in a statement posted on his official website, said the added troops would “provide support for security forces and the Iraqi heroes in the fight looming in the liberation of Mosul.”
It is not the most popular decision after years of the War on Iraq still lingering in the minds of the American people. President Obama has done is best that the soldiers deployed are in advisory roles versus combat ones.
Capturing Mosul would prove to be both a symbolic and strategic defeat the militant presence. However, military experts have stated that retaking Mosul would be a difficult task that plays to the extremist group’s advantages, most notably their ability to embed themselves among civilians.
The battle will be a large one, and will require huge numbers of troops as well as street-by-street combat.