US advisers in Iraq have yet to give advice

U.S. military advisers in Iraq are assessing the situation there and have yet to offer any actual advice to Iraq on how it might contend with Sunni militants that have advanced on Baghdad, the U.S. said Monday.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. has always said it’s the job of the personnel Obama ordered to Iraq on June 19 to assess events on the ground. 

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The 180 of 300 advisers Obama ordered who have deployed to Iraq are conducting assessments on the state of the Iraq's military and the threat posed by extremist Sunni group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Kirby said.

"We are in a process that may or may not lead to follow-on military advisory missions. That's what we asked the assessment teams to do at the outset. Assess the ISF, assess the ISIL and the situation on the ground and help us think through what a potential for an advisory mission could look like," Kirby said. 

Kirby said the president would make the decision on whether to begin advisory missions, which would include putting teams of advisers with Iraqi troops to assist them and give them advice, but that there was no deadline on when that decision would come. 

“Everybody knows and shares a sense of urgency about what's going on in Iraq, but it's more important to get this issue right than to get it quick,” he added. 

“So I think you can expect senior leaders in the Pentagon to take the time that digest this material, there's a lot before recommendations can be made to the commander in chief and the interagency on how to move forward,” he said. 

Kirby said although there was no advising going on, the U.S. troops “have started to coordinate and communicate” with Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq, and to provide them with intelligence they can act upon. 

“I can't sit here and look at you and say that ... there aren't times as we're talking to Iraqi security forces that we're providing them information that they can act upon. Of course we are,” he said.