U.S. to Send More than 200 Advisers to Iraq to Fight ISIS
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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter has announced that more than 200 advisers will be sent to Iraq to battle ISIS. Carter, who is currently in Baghdad, said government officials in Iraq have also authorized the U.S. to use Apache helicopters in the fight against the extremist group.

During a visit to Baghdad Defense Secretary Ash Carter has announced 217 more advisers — personnel who will serve as consultants, trainers, aviation support and security. Many of these additional troops will be Army Special Operations.

Carter told reporters this will put Americans closer to the action since they will be advising operations that are relocating and following the forces. He said having American advisers closer to the lower headquarters will allow them to respond in a more "agile" way to battlefield conditions.

The initiative is part newly expanded authorities the Obama administration has been seeking to speed up the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. The announcement is seen as part of the planned offensive in discussion for the past several months, aimed at recapturing Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. ISIS has controlled the city since June 2014.

This deployment will raise the authorized number of U.S. military forces serving in Iraq from 3,870 to 4,087. U.S. officials have acknowledged that there are likely another 1,000 U.S. forces in Iraq serving in various temporary assignments, including a company of Marines who recently established an artillery support position 60 miles south of Mosul.

The additional American advisers headed to Iraq will be authorized to advise and assist Iraqi military forces at additional levels, including brigade and battalion headquarters. Previously, advisers were restricted to forces, corps, division and only some brigades. They will be closer to the fight against ISIS but will not engage in fighting with Iraqi military forces. They will remain at the headquarters level where they can assist with Iraqi military planning against ISIS Iraqi forces -- until now they had only been allowed to advise at the much higher Iraqi corps and division level.

Carter also announced that the U.S. will bring in additional rockets, specifically another High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMAR), to Iraq. Two others are currently based in Anbar Province, which have been used in strikes against ISIS positions.

Iraq has also authorized the use of American Apache attack helicopters to support the country’s military operations, an offer first made by Carter last December. Until now, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi had declined, which U.S. officials had attributed to politics in Iraq that have largely opposed a greater U.S. military role.

American Apache helicopters have been based in Iraq since the summer of 2014, but have mostly been restricted only to the protection of U.S. troops. They have been used in only one military operation since then, an operation against ISIS west of Baghdad, in October 2014.

Not mentioned by Carter was whether the administration has also decided to send more U.S. Special Operations advisers to northeast Syria where 50 advisers have been assisting Arab and Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria against ISIS since earlier this year.

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