US Deploys 450 Troops To Train Sunni Muslims In Iraq

US Deploys 450 Troops To Train Sunni Muslims In Iraq

By Seyi Peters | Staff Reporter on June 12, 2015
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President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to reporters about the fiscal cliff in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. (Photo Credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)

The US President, Barack Obama has ordered the deployment of up to 450 more American troops to Iraq on Wednesday June 10, 2015 .

The US is trying to to reverse some major battlefield losses to the Islamic State especially the key city of Ramadi, which was seized by extremists last month.

According to Reuters, the American forces are there to set up their fifth training facility in the country. This newest facility is specifically geared towards helping the Iraqi Army integrate Sunni tribes into the fight, a factor that many see as a crucial to driving the Islamic State out of the Sunni-majority areas of western Iraq.

The U.S. says that Americans will not have a combat role. But their priority is to must make sure “that we can be nimble because clearly this is a very nimble enemy,” Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin Rhodes told reporters.

The plan addresses a need to get Sunnis more involved in the fight. Local citizens in Sunni-majority areas fear reprisals from Iran-backed Shiite militias even more than they fear domination by the Islamic State, highlighting the need for any military campaign there to be led by local fighters.

But the Shiite-led Iraqi government’s record in recruiting Sunni tribesman has been mixed at best, slowing efforts to regain Ramadi and Fallujah, a nearby city that Islamic State militants have held for more than a year. Iraqi leaders fear that Sunni fighters, once armed, could turn against the government, and they have deployed most U.S.-trained Iraqi troops in defensive formations around Baghdad, the capital.

President Obama recently admitted that the U.S. lacks a “complete strategy” for defeating the Islamic State, and officials pointed to a great lack of recruits among Sunnis.

Wednesday’s announcement of a new training site at al-Taqaddum, an air base that served as a US military hub during the 2003-2011 war, is designed to remedy this. The additional troops will include advisers, trainers, logisticians and security personnel.

But the changes don’t go nearly far enough for critics of the administration’s approach. They have pressed for military coordinators and advisers closer to the front lines to augment the U.S. airstrike campaign.

 

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