Obama to send more troops to Iraq

Obama to send more troops to Iraq
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The Pentagon on Monday announced that it will send more than 200 troops to Iraq to support Baghdad's offensive to re-capture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In addition, teams of about a dozen U.S. troops each can now embed with Iraqi brigades and battalions — putting them closer to the fight than before. Those teams, which will offer advice and assistance, will be protected by U.S. security forces, officials said.

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Among the new initiatives announced by the Pentagon, U.S. troops in Iraq will employ the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, a multiple-launch rocket system.

Apache helicopters will also support Iraqi troops for the first time since the administration pulled U.S. troops from the country after the war.

The 217 additional forces will be a mixture of advisers, and troops providing protection for other forces, aviation support and fire support.

They will increase the authorized troop level in Iraq from 3,870 to 4,087.

The new steps follow weeks of discussions among U.S. commanders in Iraq and Iraqi officials, Pentagon and White House officials.

They also come as Obama seeks to help Iraqi forces retake ISIS strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa by the end of this year.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that the risks to U.S. troops "are not new."

"There have been risks to U.S. personnel all along," he added.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Lindsey Graham: 'Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism' Meghan McCain knocks Lindsey Graham for defending Trump's tweets: 'This is not the person I used to know' MORE (R-Ariz.) said he welcomed the deployment of additional troops, but called it "grudging incrementalism." 

“This is yet another example of the kind of grudging incrementalism that rarely wins wars, but could certainly lose one," he said.

Earlier this month, he warned in a letter to Carter that the intensifying U.S. involvement in the fight against ISIS reminded him of the "slow, grinding failure" he witnessed in Vietnam. 

McCain has criticized the administration for putting too many constraints on the U.S. air campaign against ISIS, as well its reluctance to commit more U.S. troops to the fight. 

"This deployment is also representative of the increasing operational demands imposed upon our military that are not funded in the President’s already inadequate defense budget request," he added. "Continuing to ask our military to do more with less is irresponsible and is placing the lives of our service members at increased risk.”

The Pentagon also announced Monday that the U.S. will spend $415 million on a financial package for Kurdish peshmerga units that will help pay for stipends and other needs in light of the Kurdistan Regional Government's budget crisis.

Davis emphasized that the support will be distributed "by, with and through the government of Baghdad." 

— This story was last updated at 4:58 p.m.