1,500 More Soldiers To Be Sent To Iraq

by Clarissa-Jan Lim

President Barack Obama is sending another 1,500 troops to Iraq to help Kurdish and Iraqi forces fight ISIS, said the White House in a statement released Friday. The new deployments will more than double the number of U.S. soldiers already in the region to help fight ISIS. The statement also noted that Obama would ask Congress for another $5.6 billion to fund the fight against the brutally merciless extremist group.

The White House said the troops will only train, advise and assist, operating from outside Baghdad and Erbil — none will serve in a combat role. The request also includes $1.6 billion to set up a fund aimed at expanding and reinforcing Iraqi and Kurdish security forces as they prepare to mount a counter offensive.

Obama's budget director, Shaun Donovan, said:

We believe this request is an opportunity for Congress and this Administration to work together to provide the additional resources needed to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL and I look forward to working with Congress to secure this funding.

The request comes on the heels of a GOP takeover of the Senate (that filled it with hawks), and effectively Congress. Sen. John McCain, known for his hawkish foreign policy stances, is poised to take the reins of the Senate's Defense Policy, and will most likely call for more aggressive action against ISIS, as he has done in the past.

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According to CNN, the Pentagon's press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said that the requests were based on the U.S. Central Command's assessment of Iraqi security forces, adding that the new deployments will expand a military advisory mission established in the summer. Rear Admiral Kirby added that the recommendation of sending more troops to Iraq was on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's recommendation.

The American soldiers will also help bolster efforts by the Iraqi forces in the "highly volatile" section of Anbar Province, said NBC News, where it is mostly controlled by ISIS. The decision to send more military personnel to the beleaguered region deepens the U.S.' involvement in a complex regional battle that has also affected its relationship with Iran and Israel.

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The move also goes along with President Obama's shift in foreign policy, a stark change from when he was first sworn in and vowed not to involve the nation in regional troubles — a promise he more or less held up until ISIS emerged as an unexpected extremist force.

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