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Pentagon: US Troops’ Role in Iraq Could Expand

Local Editor

The Pentagon warned Congress on Thursday that the military campaign against so-called “Daesh” [“ISIL”] is just beginning and could expand to include modest numbers of US forces fighting alongside Iraqi troops.

Testifying before the House Armed Service committee, Hagel and US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey outlined future scenarios that would warrant the US reconsidering its policy which they say is to combat “Daesh”.

US Secretary of War Chuck Hagel said on Thursday that the American-led effort to combat so-called “Daesh” may require US forces to fight along their Iraqi counterparts as they become engaged in more complex missions.

Dempsey meanwhile said that while Iraqi forces have shown signs of improvement, “and I think soon we will be able to describe it as a good job,” future efforts may require additional US support. Those tasks include the eventual consolidation of control over Iraq’s second city, Mosul, and securing the Iraq-Syria border.

“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by US forces but we’re certainly considering it,” Dempsey said.

Furthermore, Dempsey added that US forces in the country have established a “modest footprint,” and “any expansion of that, I’d think, would be equally modest…”

Hagel further said that “more than a dozen” coalition partners have said that they would be willing to send trainers and advisers to help build up Iraqi forces.

Additionally, Dempsey said that core underlying assumptions are currently guiding the US mission against “Daesh”. Should the Iraqi government fail to achieve unity, the US will have to pursue other partners in the fight against “Daesh”, Dempsey said.

“We absolutely need a credible partner to provide ground forces in that region so that we don’t have to provide the ground combat power to accomplish the task,” he said.

Even as questions loom over the coalition’s efforts in Iraq, Hagel told lawmakers that US preparations for a train and equip mission for so-called “moderate” militants of the Syrian opposition are complete.

Development of training sites in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as “recruiting and vetting will begin when Congress has authorized the actual funding, but we are still moving forward, doing what we must do to prepare for that vetting process and that training,” he said.

Hagel added that without a partner government or military forces in Syria, US military efforts in the country in the near-term “are limited to isolating and destroying “ISIL’s” safe havens.”

Hagel and Dempsey’s testimonies come nearly a week after the administration requested $5.6 billion in additional funding from Congress for the “mission” in Syria and Iraq.

Obama authorized military action in Iraq and Syria in August.

Source: Al-Ahed news

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