By Kristina Wong - 06/09/15 09:37 PM EDT
Obama to send hundreds more advisers to Iraq
The Obama administration is planning to send about 400 additional trainers to Iraq to train Iraqi forces against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to the New York Times.
The decision comes after an embarrassing defeat of Iraqi forces at Ramadi last month to the terrorist group, prompting the administration to reconsider its training and equipping program for Iraqi forces.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Iraqi forces in Ramadi had lacked the "will to fight," and Sunni tribal fighters there had complained of not receiving any training or equipment from the central government.
After the defeat, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he had asked a team of top military officials to put together options for enhancing the train and equip program, a key part of the administration's strategy in Iraq.
The Pentagon had said earlier Wednesday that providing training directly to Sunni tribal fighters was one of those options. The U.S. has so far left the task of training and equipping Sunni forces up to Baghdad, out of concern it could worsen sectarian tensions or undermine the Shia-dominated central government.
The U.S. will also establish a new coalition training and advising site at Taqaddum, an Iraqi base in Anbar Province, as part of the effort to speed up and enhance the training mission.
The decision comes after months of debate about the strategy, which was settled by the fall of Ramadi, the New York Times reported. Anbar will become the focus of a long campaign that will eventually seek to regain Mosul, which ISIS seized last June, the paper said.
There are currently about 3,080 U.S. troops in Iraq, training Iraqi forces and providing protection to U.S. troops and facilities. The president has so far authorized 3,100 troops so far, and would have to issue a notice to Congress to deploy more.
The move could rekindle action by Congress to consider authorizing military force against ISIS, ten months after the U.S.-led airstrike campaign in Iraq started.