WASHINGTON – Nearly 1,300 more U.S. troops will be sent to Iraq next year to help security forces take on the Islamic State, the Pentagon announced Friday.
Among those deployed will be 1,000 paratroopers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division whose mission it will be to train, advise and assist Iraqi security forces. Another 300 troops will come from other Army, Air Force and Marine Corps units.
Friday’s announcement comes in addition to the 1,500 troops President Obama authorized in November.
Prior to the November announcement, there were about 1,400 U.S. troops in Iraq.
The decision to add more troops reflects a deepening U.S. involvement in the region. The U.S. has been launching airstrikes on Islamic State militants and facilities in Iraq and Syria for weeks. Early on, ISIS gained ground across Iraq, as local Iraqi unites threw down their weapons and fled or joined the insurgents.
On Thursday, Lt. Gen. James Terry, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said other countries in the coalition are expected to contribute to another 1,500-strong force for the capacity-building effort.
“The key to success out there will be increasing the capabilities of Iraqi security forces,” Terry said during a press conference.