US weighs 500 more troops for Iraq
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Pentagon is considering a proposal that could send an additional 500 troops to Iraq to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces take Mosul from ISIS in the coming weeks, a US defense official told CNN.
The possibility of sending some number of additional forces has been reported for several weeks, including by CNN. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the proposal centered around the possibility of up to 500 additional forces.
No final decision has been made, the official said. If the proposal is approved, it is anticipated that would be the final wave of additional US forces for fighting ISIS, since Mosul remains the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq, the official added.
If the proposal is okayed, it will raise the ceiling on the number of US troops in Iraq from 4,647 to over 5,000. Several hundred additional troops move in and out of Iraq on temporary deployment orders. Currently, there are 4,470 there under the approved ceiling.
The Pentagon is not precisely revealing what the troops might be called upon to do. Some number are expected to be military advisors and trainers for Iraqi and Kurdish forces, whiles others could be involved in logistics such as moving supplies and troops around the battlefield, the official said.
Arizona Republican John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, criticized the move Thursday. “Indeed, we read this morning of plans for yet another incremental increase of 500 troops in Iraq, one more step down the road of gradual escalation,” he said.