President Barack Obama on Wednesday authorized sending another 450 U.S. troops to train Iraqi security forces to combat the Islamic State, a response after the the militant group overran the city of Ramadi.
The troops will train and advise Iraqi troops at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province, bringing the total to more than 3,500, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Elissa Slotkin said.
Slotkin stressed the troops “will not conduct offensive ground combat operations.”
Slotkin said the additional number of troops is sufficient, but added the administration will continue to evaluate the numbers necessary to meet the threat.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi requested the additional trainers and Obama consulted Defense Secretary Ash Carter on the increase, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
“These new advisers will work to build capacity of Iraqi forces, including local tribal fighters, to improve their ability to plan, lead and conduct operations against ISIL in eastern Anbar under the command of the prime minister,” Earnest said.
The United States and coalition forces have helped to train 9,000 Iraqi troops.
The movement of foreign fighters to fight with the Islamic State remains a major concern, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said. The United States estimates that about 180 Americans have gone to Iraq or Syria to join the Islamic State, while thousands of Europeans have joined.
Obama has spoken with Abadi twice over the last month, said Jeff Prescott, the National Security Council's senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States. The United States has evaluated what has worked and has evaluated setbacks such as Ramadi, Prescott added.
In Ramadi, some of the Iraqi forces did not have the equipment they needed. A key goal will be to “expedite the delivery of equipment and material” to Iraqi forces, Prescott said.