The commander in chief has authorized Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to deploy to Iraq up to 450 additional U.S. personnel in a non-combat role, to expand our advise and assist mission at Taqaddum Air Base in support of the Government of Iraq.
The intent of this increase will be to provide personnel to assist with planning, integration and support of Iraqi Security Forces and tribal forces as they fight to retake the Ramadi and Fallujah corridor. U.S. forces will provide operational advice and planning support the Iraqi Security Forces, to include the 8th Iraqi Army Division and other security forces associated with the Government of Iraq. This mission will also enable tribal outreach as part of the plan Prime Minister Al-Abadi led the Council of Ministers in passing on May 19 to accelerate the training and equipping of local tribes in coordination with Anbar authorities.
This decision does not represent a change in mission, but rather adds another location for DoD to conduct similar activities in more areas in Iraq. U.S. forces continue to perform an advisory, training, and support role and are not conducting offensive ground combat operations. The additional site will result in an increase in DoD force levels to up to 3,550 personnel.
Ultimately, these Iraqi forces will enable Iraq to better defend its citizens and retake its territory from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This effort is in keeping with our overarching strategy to work with partners on the ground to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.