Sec Def seeks to send more troops to Iraq and push Marines closer to fight

U.S. Marine Sgt. Robert McCabe, a section leader with Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC), points out areas of interest to members of his team during a perimeter patrol in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, March 21, 2016. SPMAGTF-CR-CC Marines are responsible for the force protection of coalition assets at some Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve bases within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility as part of the effort to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Rick Hurtado / RELEASED).

The Secretary of Defense has arrived in Baghdad to speak with US and Iraqi commanders about sending more U.S. troops to Iraq for an assault on the Islamic State.

The coalition is determined to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State which captured the city in the summer of 2014.  The Islamic State is using the city as its capitol in Iraq and officials are concerned that the Iraqi Army may not be fully equipped for an offensive.

Ashton Carter will meet with Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the U.S. commander of the coalition campaign against the Islamic State, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and defense minister Khaled Al-Obeidi to discuss the possibility of sending more U.S. troops to aid the Iraqi Army, according to Stripes.

“We are not looking for a big footprint and the Iraqis certainly will be supportive of things that are directly connected to capabilities that they feel their soldiers need do the fight,” a US defense official said.

The Department of Defense has not provided detail on what “more troops” would entail but the defense official suggested it would likely be small additions of specific forces the U.S. thinks will help the Iraqi campaign against ISIS.

The defense official said US Marines that are currently in Iraq will likely move forward toward Mosul, assuming greater risk.

“I do expect that we’re going to accept more risk and we’re going to bring in resources as appropriate to protect and buy down that risk, absolutely,” the official said.

Marines are currently providing artillery support for the Iraqi forces from a base near Makhmour (70 miles from Mosul) which has already been under attack from ISIS, claiming the life of Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin.

Ashton Carter believes his recommendation for more US troops will have full support from the White House.

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