Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced Monday that the administration will increase its military presence cap in Iraq by 560 additional troops.
Carter’s announcement came during a visit with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Iraq. The trip marks his fourth visit to Iraq as Secretary of Defense, and comes just after coalition forces have made significant steps in rolling back the Islamic State, most notably in the city of Fallujah. He also plans to meet with several other Iraqi leaders, coalition commanders and U.S. troops.
“At every step in this campaign, we have generated and seized additional opportunities to hasten ISIL’s lasting defeat,” said Carter during his announcement. “These additional U.S. forces will bring unique capabilities to the campaign and provide critical enabler support to Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight.”
The additional 560 troops added to the cap will bring the total to 4,647. The new forces are slated to perform a number of roles in the fight against ISIS, including logistics support for the ongoing siege against Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the de facto ISIS capital in Iraq.
Despite Monday’s announcement, the increase in cap does not necessarily mean there will be 4,647 total troops in Iraq. Many forces on temporary assignment are not counted against the cap number, and the administration has occasionally operated under the cap, depending on circumstances.
Carter also congratulated Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) on the recent retaking of an air strip near the Iraqi town of Qayyarah over the weekend.
“With the retaking of Qayyarah West airfield, the Iraqi security forces have once again demonstrated a serious will to fight,” said Carter. “I congratulate them on their recent successes and reaffirm that the United States, along with our coalition partners, will continue to do all we can to support Iraq’s effort to serve ISIL a lasting defeat.”
Carter told reporters ahead of the visit that his meeting with al-Abadi will center on the “collapse and control over Mosul” and the retaking of all Iraqi territory from the terrorist group.
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