U.S. to send 600 more troops to Iraq for Mosul offensive

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has announced that some 600 additional troops will be sent to Iraq prior to a major offensive against the city of Mosul held by the Islamic State.

Carter said President Barack Obama approved sending the troops. The troops were sent on the recommendation of General Joe Dunford, Chair of the Joint Chiefs. The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi approved sending the additional troops and supported the U.S. decision. Carter claimed the additional troops would "further enable Iraqi forces", saying:"The troops, in close coordination with the government of Iraq, will provide specific capabilities including logistics and maintenance support; train, advise and assist teams for Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga for the upcoming Mosul operation; and expanded intelligence resources to help disrupt ISIL's terrorist network in Iraq and beyond." Iraqi PM al-Abadi said: "American President Barack Obama was consulted on a request from the Iraqi government for a final increase in the number of trainers and advisers under the umbrella of the international coalition in Iraq."
The addition of the troops will raise the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to over 5,200 while the cap is supposed to be 4,600. The news did not sit well with everyone in the U.S. government. John McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee called the move "mission creep". Carter will likely send a request for more funds to Congress as expenses mount for U.S. wars, including 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. McCain has suggested that there should be even more funding and that even more troops need to be sent to Iraq. He has complained that the offensive against the Islamic State has been too incremental McCain said: "They're going to need more money than, maybe, they said they'd need a couple weeks ago. And they may have to send more troops over and may have to ask for more money."
The level of U.S. involvement in Iraq has grown throughout the year. This is the third new deployment of U.S. troops since last April. The new troops will serve as trainers and advisers to Iraqi security forces as well as the Kurdish peshmerga forces concentrating on preparing for the battle to take Mosul. Carter noted that although it will be the Iraqi forces who are in combat, that American forces would be "in harm's way". Some of the troops wii be based at Qayara air base which is about 40 miles (60 km) from the city of Mosul. The base was captured in July and is being turned into a logistics hub to support the Mosul offensive. Carter said: "Mosul will be the last of the very large cities that needs to be recaptured but they’ll need to continue to consolidate control over the whole city.” The U.S. dispatched about 200 more troops in April and then 560 more in July. Three US troops have been killed so far since the battle against the Islamic State was launched. At the height of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq there were 170,000 troops deployed to Iraq. The U.S. president continues to insist that in the operation against the Islamic State there will be no troops on the ground.
CNN also has a report on the sending of a new contingent of troops to Iraq but claims there will be approximately 500 new troops. Officials claim that this will probably be the final addition of U.S. troops to Iraq. The article notes that the total number of troops listed in Iraq is misleading in that hundreds of additional troops, currently there on a short term status, are not counted.

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