Department of Defense officials are devising a plan to send U.S. personnel to Iraq’s Anbar Province. The mission of American service members has not changed. If sent into the region, they would act as advisors for Iraq’s forces against the Islamic State.
Advisors from the U.S. military are currently operating in areas near Baghdad and Irbil in the northern part of Iraq. This new plan would put U.S. troops in the middle of some of the heaviest fighting in the country.
The majority of Iraq’s Anbar Province is currently under the control of the Islamic State. Officials, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, believe that providing training and support for Iraq’s Sunni tribes to go on the offensive against the Islamic State is crucial to defeating the terrorist group.
In a news conference last week, Gen. Dempsey hinted at the possibility of the new role after discussing a report on a Sunni tribe that has suffered mass executions at the hands of the Islamic State.
“That”s why we need to expand the train-advise-and-assist mission into the Al- Anbar Province,” Dempsey told reporters. “But the precondition for that is that the government of Iraq is willing to arm the tribes.”
Dempsey reported that the United States had “positive indications” from the Iraqi government that they were prepared to do that, but had not yet done so.
Pentagon officials believe that such a mission could open the door to the formation of an Iraqi National Guard, while at the same time aid Iraq in regaining control of the province from the Islamic State.
As of yet, there is no timeline when U.S. troops would be staged as advisors in the Anbar Province.
During the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Anbar was the setting of a violent insurgency. It was only with the help of Sunni tribes that al Qaeda was driven from the region. During this conflict against the Islamic State, thousands of Sunni have died, including 400 members of the Abu Nimer, who were recently killed after standing up to the Islamic State.
Many believe that without aid and training from the U.S., any Iraqis who want to remove the Islamic State from their land will be hard-pressed to do so.
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Military Connection: US Troops to Return to Anbar? By Debbie Gregory