Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2016-02-04 00:38:43
‘Well Above 4,000’ US Troops in Iraq
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
WASHINGTON (February 3, 2016) — While the Pentagon continues to talk up its intentions to send many hundreds more ground troops into Iraq, escalating their overall presence, officials today admitted that the number of US troops in the country is far above what they’d previously admitted.
During last week’s deployment talks, the Pentagon suggested 3,700 troops were in Iraq, and the White House has repeatedly talked about troop levels being at 3,500 to 3,600. [See story below — EAW.] Today, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren admitted the figure was “well above 4,000.”
How far above isn’t exactly clear, but Col. Warren was asked about a recent Daily Beast report which put the figure at 4,450, and would only say he wasn’t “going to dispute” that number. He attempted to talk up the huge number of troops as “overlap” because of rotations.
What it really means, however, is that when the Pentagon last week mentioned 3,700 troops and adding 800 more, they were really suggesting a deployment that could bring the overall US presence on the ground well above 5,000.
Problematic for the US, but potentially another huge blow for Iraqi PM Hayder Abadi, who signed an agreement with the US, which capped the number of US ground troops in the nation at 3,870 at any given time. Col. Warren admitted he was “aware of those limitations,” but did nothing to dispel the idea that the US is already far over those limits.
Abadi has been taking heat for months from Shi’ite figures who complain he’s been too lax in letting the US build up its military presence. Learning that he’s allowed the Pentagon to far exceed negotiated limits is only going to add to the sense that he is letting the US do whatever it wants.
Pentagon Seeks ‘Hundreds More’ US Troops in Iraq and Syria
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(January 28, 2016) — Last week, Pentagon officials were talking up a few hundred additional “trainers” for the ISIS war in Iraq and Syria. This appears to have just been the start, as reports now suggest that over the last several weeks, the Pentagon has sought another 800 US troops for the war.
800 would be a big deployment for a war in which the “no boots on the ground” mantra has continued to be repeated by the administration, so the plan is to split this up over several deployments. Over the past 18 months, the US has brought some 3,700 troops into Iraq, over a large number of small escalations.
In all of this the Pentagon has repeatedly suggested coalition partners would make up a lot of these deployments, though recently they’ve complained that many in the coalition are doing “nothing at all” for the war effort, and several have spurned requests for more troops.
Even this effort to get up to 4,500 troops on the ground is just the near-term goal, and doesn’t seem like it’s going to be anything close to the end of the ongoing escalation of the war.
Absent from the Pentagon push for ever more troops is the question of if the Iraqi government will go along with it. Several times in the past they’ve expressed annoyance at the US announcing escalations before asking them, and several Shi’ite militias in Iraq have complained that the US presence is already far too large.
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