Hagel: Ground troops could be needed in Iraq

Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Navy medic killed after wounding 2 sailors in Maryland shooting | Dems push Biden for limits on military gear transferred to police | First day of talks on Iran deal 'constructive' 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack Trump Afghan pullout deal unachievable, says ex-Pentagon leader MORE is telling CNN that non-combat ground troops could be necessary in Iraq.

Hagel, who is on his way out at the Pentagon and appeared with President Obama this week at a farewell ceremony, said the battle in Iraq against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would not require U.S. troops just yet.


But he suggested the need could become apparent.

“I think it may require a forward deployment of some of our troops ...” he said on CNN, according to a Reuters report. “I would say we're not there yet. Whether we get there or not, I don't know.”

The U.S. has sent advisers to Iraq as part of the battle against ISIS, but Obama has repeatedly said no ground troops will return to the country. Obama has made the removal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan a key part of his presidency.

Hagel resigned late last year under pressure after differences with other members of Obama’s team.

He follows Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, in suggesting ground troops could be necessary in Iraq.