Pentagon officials say an increase of U.S. troops in Iraq is likely, after military experts undertook to recommend that President Obama step up U.S. forces in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. General Joseph Dunford, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said that his recommendation was to increase the U.S. troops already in Iraq - approximately 3,800 - over the coming weeks.
The push to increase U.S. troops in Iraq was first discussed at a Pentagon conference with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, where the likelihood of an increase in forces to "accelerate the push into I.S. strongholds" became apparent.
The specifics of the troops increase were not discussed, given that the proposal remains a recommendation from Carter and Dunford, and no Presidential decision has been made about U.S. forces in Iraq as yet.
"The secretary and I both believe that there will be an increase to the U.S. forces in Iraq in the coming weeks, but that decision hasn't been made," Gen. Dunford said at the conference.
In a climate of terror, which is penetrating European capitals and poisoning previously safe countries of the Western world, the fact that Pentagon officials say that an increase of U.S. troops in Iraq is likely is perhaps less unexpected than it would have been a week ago. With Europe reeling from the deadly Brussels attacks on Tuesday last week, as reported on by The Inquisitr, Secretary Carter's recommendation appears to come, in part, from solidarity with the E.U. as it struggles under the weight of the Syrian refugee crisis.
"Today, the United States is as committed as ever to our European friends and allies. Together, we continue to do more and more to bring the full weight of our vast military capabilities to bear in accelerating the defeat of ISIL," said Carter at the conference.
Carter also discussed the strategy of systematic elimination of ISIL's cabinet currently operated by U.S. troops, whereby the figureheads of Islamic State activity be destroyed and prevent the re-starting of terrorist operations due to lack of leadership. AP reports that while some of these eliminations have taken place in Iraq prior to when Pentagon officials said an increase of troops in Iraq was likely, there is much more work to do. The recent bombing of a soccer stadium in Iraq, which killed almost 30 people, underscored the proposed need for an increase of troops on foot in the war-ravaged country.
"The Pentagon is moving to increase the number of American troops in Iraq amid strikes that have killed the Islamic State's finance minister and other senior leaders. Still, top U.S. defense officials say the deaths won't 'break the back' of the extremist group, which is in a fierce fight for an ancient city in Syria and claim responsibility for bombing a soccer stadium in Iraq," reports AP.
At the peak of the war, the U.S. had 165,000 troops in Iraq. The Wall Street Journal reports that though the current number of U.S. troops in Iraq is around 3,800, a significant increase to that number applies when troops in Iraq on temporary duty is counted.
"According to the Pentagon, the U.S. has 3,800 troops in Iraq 'directly in support of the mission', but that tally doesn't count forces on temporary duty, which may raise the current number to as high as about 5,000. Gen. Dunford would neither confirm nor deny that figure," says the Wall Street Journal.
Some have taken to social media to express discontent with the proposal from Pentagon officials to increase U.S. troops in Iraq.
Though Pentagon officials say an increase of U.S. troops in Iraq is likely, a decision is yet to be made. While I.S. militants continue to destroy Roman-era relics in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, the topic of U.S. troops and western forces in Iraq remains at the forefront of the global consciousness.
[Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images]