Since President Obama announced on June 19 that he would be sending 300 military advisers to Iraq, the number of U.S. personnel deployed has incrementally crept up.
Today, Obama notified House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate President Pro Tempore Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) as required by the War Powers Resolution that he ordered “approximately 200 additional U.S. Armed Forces personnel to Iraq to reinforce security at the U.S. Embassy, its support facilities, and the Baghdad International Airport.”
“This force consists of additional security forces, rotary-wing aircraft, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support,” he said. “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.”
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement that the additional personnel arrived in Iraq on Sunday and today “from locations within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.”
“Capabilities provided include a detachment of helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, which will bolster airfield and travel route security. Similar to the U.S. security personnel who arrived in Baghdad earlier this month to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, they will integrate with existing U.S. embassy security teams,” Kirby said.
“The presence of these additional forces will help enable the embassy to continue its critical diplomatic mission and work with Iraq on challenges they are facing as they confront Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”
In addition to this, Kirby continued, “the approximately 100 personnel already prepositioned in the Central Command region — previously announced by the Defense Department in mid-June — will also move forward to Baghdad to provide security and logistics support.”
“These forces are separate and apart from the up to 300 personnel the president authorized to establish two joint operations centers and conduct an assessment of how the U.S. can provide additional support to Iraq’s security forces as they confront the grave threat posed by ISIL,” he said.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked at today’s briefing whether Obama was “hopeful” that U.S. allies would contribute to security forces in Iraq.
“I would assume — and I think with a lot of confidence — that the leaders of these other countries will be making a similar calculation to the one that the president has made, which is that our interest in that country — or our activity in that country will be governed by what the president assesses to be in the best interest of American national security,” Earnest said.
“That will continue to be the criteria that the president will use as he makes decisions about U.S. actions there, and I assume that other countries and other country’s leaders will be making a similar calculation.”