44 unveiled new plans for handling a leisurely uptick versus ISIL
The decision to increase the number of Special Operations forces in Iraq and Syria was made this month. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced an additional 200 troops for Iraq during a visit to Baghdad last week.
44 also has authorized U.S. commanders in Iraq to use Apache attack helicopters and deploy American advisers with lower-level Iraqi units to assist local troops in a future offensive to reclaim the city of Mosul. U.S. officials think those measures will enhance the effectiveness of Iraqi troops, but they also will expose U.S. forces to greater risk.
The increase is part of an overall acceleration in the fight against the Islamic State. Despite a string of what the administration has described as successes — including territory reclaimed from the militants in Iraq and Syria and the severing of supply and communication lines between Islamic State forces in the two countries — some aspects of the conflict have gone more slowly, or have been less successful, than anticipated.
Although Iraqi military forces, backed by U.S. air power and other enhancements, retook the city of Ramadi early this year, plans to move toward Mosul, in northern Iraq, have dragged as the Baghdad government contends with economic and political difficulties, and the melding of Iraq’s Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish military forces into a unified offensive force has proved problematic.
The Iraqi military also continues to struggle with issues of morale, leadership and logistics.