U.S. Sends 560 More Troops to Iraq to Confront ISIL

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The United States is sending 560 additional troops to Iraq in a push to retake the city of Mosul, currently under the control of the Islamic State. Over the next few weeks the soldiers will be sent to Qayyarah Air Base, a site 40 miles south of the city, which was recaptured by Iraqi forces on Saturday, July 9.

“These additional U.S. forces will bring unique capabilities to the campaign and provide critical enabler support to Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

President Obama had pulled American forces out of Iraq in 2011, but they returned three years later to fight ISIL.

President Obama had pulled American forces out of Iraq in 2011, but they returned three years later to fight ISIL.

The deployment comes at a time when President Obama had been expected to draw down forces in Iraq. He had removed them in 2011, but three years later sent them back to confront the growing threat of ISIL. This addition will bring the tally to 4,467 U.S. troops currently in Iraq. Secretary Carter said defeating ISIL is major goal and he had no reservations against asking Obama for more soldiers to do so.

“As ISIL loses territory and the fraud of the caliphate becomes more obvious, they are going to start resorting to more traditional terrorist tactics,” Obama said. “They can’t govern. They can’t deliver anything meaningful to the people whose territory they can control. The one thing they know how to do is kill.”

The 560 extra troops include engineers, logistics personnel, security and communications specialists who will focus on primarily non-combat roles. The air base they will be working from was taken without much resistance, according to military officials, but it was severely damaged in the battle and will need improvements to accommodate Iraqi aircraft.

“We’re going to need airfield operations, and if you want to go in concentric circles around that we’re going to also have a logistics footprint there to facilitate the flow of goods and supplies and personnel through that airfield,” said Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland. “We’ll have a security envelope around that. We’ll have a communications capability there and a command-and-control or headquarters unit there, as well. There’s nothing really very sexy in any of that, but it’s all very necessary to keep the campaign moving forward.”

Secretary Carter told reporters that effective use of U.S. forces at the airfield will pinch ISIL’s presence in Mosul with the help of Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces.

The tensions in Iraq are always high and seemingly able to erupt at any second. It’s not often we hear good news from the area, but stories of bravery and courage are never in short supply. In 2015, an American soldier gave his life in an operation that saved 70 hostages from ISIL’s grasp. Follow this link to read more.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and world traveler with a background in journalism, graphic design, and French pastry. He likes to learn new things whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, folk music and coffee.