U.S. troops may return to Middle East to train Iraqis
Jan. 17, 2014 - 06:00AM
It is unclear whether troops would be sent directly into Iraq or possibly conduct training in a nearby country such as Jordan. “We are in continuing discussions about how we can improve the Iraqi military,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday.
The idea of sending U.S. military trainers back to Iraq for the first time since 2011 is one the Pentagon has emphatically rejected in recent years, but on Friday, Warren offered a carefully worded statement that did not rule out the possibility.
The move comes in response to the deepening crisis in Anbar province, where militants have seized parts of Fallujah.
|President Obama shaking hands with President Nouri al-Maliki|
Iraq President Nouri al-Maliki said this week that he would support a new U.S. military training mission for Iraqi counterterrorism troops in neighboring Jordan, marking the first time he has expressed support for such a plan, according to a report in the Washington Post.
In addition to discussions about trainers, the Pentagon is also fast-tracking approval for a shipment of small arms and ammunition to the Iraqi military, Warren said.
Another defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Pentagon also may be considering a larger shipment of arms that would require notification of Congress. “We are processing a wide range of requests [from the Iraqis’] for continued support,” the defense official said.
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U.S. to ship more ammo, arms to embattled IraqJan. 17, 2014 - 02:08PM
A Pentagon spokesman said Friday that Iraq will be receiving the extra arms and ammunition “very shortly.” Army Col. Steve Warren declined to say whether Washington is considering using U.S. troops to train Iraqi forces.
Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the latest arms shipment by name, said the material includes tank ammunition and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. The official said these do not go beyond the types of weaponry the U.S. has already provided to Iraq.