(Baghdad) -The commander in chief has authorized Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to deploy to Iraq up to 1,500 additional U.S. personnel over the coming months, in a non-combat role, to expand our advise and assist mission and initiate a comprehensive training effort for Iraqi forces.
Secretary Hagel made this recommendation to President Obama based on the request of the Government of Iraq, U.S. Central Command’s assessment of Iraqi units, the progress Iraqi security forces have made in the field, and in concert with the development of a coalition campaign plan to defend key areas and go on the offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
U.S. Central Command will establish two expeditionary advise and assist operations centers, in locations outside of Baghdad and Erbil, to provide support for the Iraqis at the brigade headquarters level and above. These centers will be supported by an appropriate array of force protection capabilities.
U.S. Central Command will establish several sites across Iraq that will accommodate the training of 12 Iraqi brigades, specifically nine Iraqi army and three Peshmerga brigades. These sites will be located in northern, western, and southern Iraq. Coalition partners will join U.S. personnel at these locations to help build Iraqi capacity and capability. The training will be funded through the request for an Iraq Train and Equip Fund that the administration will submit to Congress as well as from the Government of Iraq.
Over the coming weeks, as we finalize the training site locations, the United States will work with coalition members to determine how many U.S. and coalition personnel will be required at each location for the training effort.
Ultimately, these Iraqi forces, when fully trained, will enable Iraq to better defend its citizens, its borders, and its interests against the threat of ISIL. This effort is in keeping with our overarching strategy to work with partners on the ground to destroy ISIL. /End/