Iraqi Kurdistan military officials have announced that two brigades of Kurdish armed forces, known as Pesmerga, will undergo reorganization and armament by the US in mid-January.
On the eve of recapturing Mosul from Daesh, the US military will fully arm and train two brigades of Kurdish fighters, Peshmerga Forces’ Chief of Staff Jamal Emniki revealed, according to the Iraqi Kurdistan media outlet BasNews.The reorganization of the two existing brigades is scheduled to start in mid-January, Emniki stated. The United States will provide all necessary equipment, armament and ammunition, as promised by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter during his visit to the Iraqi Kurdistan Autonomous Region in December 2015.
Peshmerga emerged as a loosely-organized Kurdish volunteer militia and is now reforming to become a well-trained and sufficiently-equipped military force. Three brigades were selected for reorganization, Al-Monitor reported in July. The US will provide whole brigade sets for these units.
“The sets will include individual soldier equipment, including helmets, body armor, first aid kits, rifles and machine guns. Also included are vehicles to move troops, supplies and equipment, “Joseph Pennington, US consul general to Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital city, told Al-Monitor earlier.
Additionally, the United States will provide the Kurds with heavy weaponry, a step long-awaited by Peshmerga, to fight Jihadists on multiple fronts.
“The US has given its approval to deliver heavy equipment to us,” Jabar Yawar, spokesman of the Peshmerga Ministry told local TV Rudaw in December. “There are now long-range artillery and gunships in Kuwait waiting to be delivered to the Kurdistan region in [January]”. In another interview with Rudaw, Yawar also talked about “armored vehicles, Humvees and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected [vehicles] (MRAPs)”.
Annual costs of the US military aid to Peshmerga are reportedly estimated to exceed $ 200 million some.
“The goal obviously is not Kurdish independence, and we make that clear in the legislation,” Ed Royce, a US Republican Senator said to Washington Examiner in June, commenting on the approval of heavy weapon deliveries to Peshmerga by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee .