The White House released official details this afternoon of President Obama’s surge of military activity to combat Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East, confirming what was reported by many national media outlets this morning.
According to the White House Press Secretary, Obama will authorize up to 450 additional troops to Iraq to “train, advise, and assist” Iraqis efforts to battle ISIS. The personnel boost will bring the total of U.S. forces in Iraq of up to 3,350, and is expected to occur this summer.
Obama also expedited specific equipment and material to Iraqi forces currently engaged in the fight against ISIS, according to the White House.
As with the last influx of troops to Iraq, the White House insists that the additional troops will not serve in a combat role.
White House senior officials explained that the mini-surge of troops would be sent to the Taqaddum Air Base to strengthen the Iraqi opposition as they continued to fight ISIS in the Anbar province.
With American forces closer to the fight, they explained, it would help “shorten the strings” to ensure that training, advising and equipment support as well as military airstrike support would reach them quicker.
One senior White House official noted that their presence alone, helped combat “panic” created by ISIS to disperse Iraqi forces, and help “situational awareness.”
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter-ISIL Brett McGurk agreed that the U.S. forces would have a deterring effect against ISIS.
“When we’re fused with them, advising and assisting we’re able to kind of see a little better and buck up the ranks,” he said, adding that U.S. troops were able to show Iraqis that ISIS was “not as strong as they pretend to be.”
Senior officials added that it was “critically important” to get Sunni tribal fighters involved in the counter-offense against ISIS so that military forces “represents the people who are residents of Iraq”
The Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication explained that the White House was trying to cultivate a “functional federalism” among the forces in the Anbar province, empowering them to keep ISIS out of their local territories.