President Barack Obama is sending another 300 U.S. troops into Iraq, citing increased concerns about the rapidly deteriorating security situation as Islamic fighters continue to make gains.
“In light of the security situation in Baghdad, I have ordered up to approximately 200 additional U.S. Armed Forces personnel to Iraq to reinforce security at the U.S. Embassy, its support facilities, and the Baghdad International Airport. This force consists of additional security forces, rotary-wing aircraft, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support,” Obama said in War Powers Resolution to Congress on Monday.
Also, another 100 U.S. troops who had been standing by in a nearby, unnamed country are also going in, adding to the force of about 300 troops the president authorized earlier this month, to help assess the situation on the ground and provide security for the U.S. Embassy and other targets in Baghdad. Some of these troops could head to northern Iraq, but no decisions have been made yet.
“The presence of these additional forces will help enable the Embassy to continue its critical diplomatic mission and work with Iraq on challenges they are facing as they confront ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant),” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby in a statement to reporters on Monday.
“In addition, the approximately 100 personnel already prepositioned in the Central Command region — previously announced by the Defense Department in mid-June — will also move forward to Baghdad to provide security and logistics support,” he said.
Obama has vowed to not put U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq – meaning that he does not want to see large numbers of American troops and tanks. But clearly, there is a growing concern that the situation will get worse. Iraq received a shipment of Russian attack helicopters this week as ISIL continues to take over large areas along the Syrian border.
At a briefing at the Pentagon on Monday, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said NATO was standing by in case any violence spilled into Turkey.