A U.S. defense official said on Monday that the military would deploy 200 additional troops to Iraq at the request of an American commander in Baghdad as part of the ongoing struggle to eradicate the Islamic State in Mosul.
Fox News reported that two companies from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division would go to Iraq to “provide additional ‘advise and assist’ support to our Iraq partners as they liberate Mosul,” the official said.
On Friday, jets from the USS George H.W. Bush began striking ISIS targets — another sign that the Trump administration’s Pentagon is stepping up efforts to defeat the terrorists.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve and the XVIII Airborne Corps, told reporters this month that only a limited number of troops were needed on the ground in Iraq to achieve the military’s mission.
“I don’t foresee us bringing in large numbers of coalition troops, mainly because what we’re doing is in fact working,” Townsend said.
The battle against ISIS in Mosul has been going on for months but is expected to conclude soon, Fox reported.
In an interview with Chris Wallace, Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi predicted the fall of the Islamic State there would come in a matter of weeks.
“We are defeating them militarily,” al-Abadi said.
On February 22, military officials said U.S. troops are “absolutely” in combat against the ISIS in Iraq and in Syria, a departure from the messaging of the Obama administration.
“Absolutely,” Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for the military coalition fighting ISIS, told reporters at a briefing.
“When someone is shooting at you, that is combat, yes,” Dorrian said.
On the day before Fox reported the increase in troops, the Military Times published a story reporting an unspecified number of troops were being deployed, citing military officials on the ground in that Baghdad.
“Additional members of 2/82 BCT are deploying to Iraq on a non-enduring temporary mission to provide additional ‘advise and assist’ support to our Iraq partners as they liberate Mosul,” U.S. officials in Baghdad told the Military Times on Sunday.
The unit designation refers to the division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, made up of more than 4,000 troops based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
A brigade combat team is made up of infantry, artillery and cavalry troops, plus the team’s supply pipeline.
According to the Military Times, some 1,700 soldiers from the same unit are currently deployed overseas spread out between Iraq and Kuwait.