President Obama just notified Congress that about 275 military personnel are deploying to Iraq.
Per the War Powers Resolution, Obama sent a notice to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate President Pro Tem Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) advising that the deployment began yesterday.
“Up to approximately 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed,” Obama writes.
“This action has been directed consistent with my responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.”
In a statement accompanying the resolution, White House press secretary Jay Carney stressed that “the personnel will provide assistance to the Department of State in connection with the temporary relocation of some staff from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the U.S. Consulates General in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman.”
“These U.S. military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq,” Carney said. “The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains open, and a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.”
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby stressed on CNN that “the embassy is a very safe compound.”
“There is no request by the State Department for any kind of evacuation. The embassy is still up and running, still operational. It’s true that they relocated some of the personnel over the weekend, but, again, the embassy’s open, open for business,” Kirby said.
“And, look, I mean, this is always a tough call, how you make these kinds of decisions about whether to move or not to move. We are postured and ready should the State Department require that. But there has been no request, none at all. The embassy’s still open.”
Kirby also said that the steamrolling of Iraqi cities by ISIS forces was “absolutely not an intelligence failure, none at all.”
“So, this is something we have been watching for a long time,” he said. “Yes, they moved pretty quick. And, yes, as I said Friday, we were surprised and disappointed at how some of the Iraqi security forces failed to meet those threats up in the north. But it’s not something we haven’t been watching.”