President Barack Obama has authorized sending up to 450 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to help fight the Islamic State terror group, but the troops won't be heading into direct combat with the group also known as ISIS or ISIL.
The additional troops will train and advise Iraqi forces at Al Taqaddum Air Base in eastern Anbar province. The authorization comes after a request by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced Wednesday. "These new advisers will work to build capacity of Iraqi forces, including local tribal fighters, to improve their ability to plan, lead, and conduct operations against ISIL in eastern Anbar under the command of the Prime Minister," Earnest said.
Some 3,100 U.S. troops are already in Iraq.
The White House announcement was criticized in advice by hawkish senators — including Arizona Republican John McCain, who noted reports that thousands of fighters have been joining the enemy — as inadequate.
"We're losing," he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., recently called for sending 10,000 troops to Iraq and taking the fight to ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The move also comes two days after Obama said, "We don't yet have a complete strategy" to train Iraqi forces to defeat ISIS. Obama has also directed additional aid to Iraqi forces, including to the Kurds and other tribal fighters, and has directed his team to intensify efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters to and from Iraq and Syria.
See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.