President Obama authorized the deployment of 475 additional U.S. troops to Iraq on Wednesday, bringing the total of U.S. troops in the country to about 1,600.
The new troops will advise and assist the Iraqi Security Forces in order to help them go on offense against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL); conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) flights; and coordinate U.S. military activities across Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
"President Obama laid out a strong, comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, and the United States military is prepared to carry out its responsibilities in this counter-terrorism campaign," Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order MORE said in a statement.
"The men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces are ready to carry out the orders of our Commander-in-Chief, to work with our partners across government, and to work with our friends and allies around the world to accomplish this mission."
Of the 475 new soldiers, 150 will advise and assist Iraqi forces, 125 will conduct ISR and 200 will serve at a headquarters command that will direct U.S. military action there.
The new 150 advisers, as well as the 300 who were ordered to Iraq in June, will begin an advise and assist mission. More than a dozen teams will embed with Iraqi Security Forces at the Iraqi brigade level and above, Kirby said.
Those supporting the ISR mission will deploy to Erbil, and replace some of the unmanned assets already in the region.
"The president has made clear that he has the authority to strike ISIL wherever they are. The U.S. military is ready to conduct direct action against ISIL targets in Syria," said a senior Defense Department official.
"Decisions about when to conduct these actions will be made at a prudent time as we continue to prosecute our comprehensive strategy against these [ISIS] terrorists," the official said.
— This post was updated at 12:06 a.m. on Sept. 11.