The United States has donated 250 mine-resistant, armor-protected (MRAP) vehicles to the Iraqi government to help strengthen the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to fight against the Islamic State group, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad announced Tuesday.
The U.S. government said that it will also deliver six M1 Abrams tanks and 50 armored Humvees, a four-wheel drive military automobile, over the next two months. The delivery of additional military equipment is part of a deal, which also includes six months of U.S.-provided maintenance for MRAP vehicles and other weapons.
“The number one threat to the Iraqi security forces are roadside bombs and vehicle-borne bombs … These MRAP vehicles provide increased ballistic and counter mine protection for Iraqi security forces,” Stuart Jones, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, said in a statement. “These vehicles will save Iraqi lives and enable Iraqi security forces to win the fight against ISIL.”
In 2014, the U.S. donated $300 million to the Iraqi government for soldiers' equipment that included 12,000 sets of body armor, Kevlar helmets, medical kits and equipment to counter improvised explosive devices (IED). In addition, it also provided security assistance in areas of vehicle maintenance and sustainment, and tank and helicopter maintenance training.
Besides the MRAP vehicles, the U.S. also announced the delivery of 10,000 M16A2 rifles to the Iraqi Army in the coming weeks. More details on U.S. security assistance to Iraq in 2014 and 2015 are available here.
According to figures provided by the Pentagon, the U.S.-led multinational coalition against the ISIS has conducted more than 900 airstrikes against the extremist group in Iraq since August at an average daily cost of over $8 million, Defense News reported.
The U.S. troops stationed in Baghdad, Taji and Al Asad Air Base are also training Iraqi forces in counter-IED tactics, while the U.S. government “is providing Iraq with millions of dollars in equipment to defeat IEDs, booby traps, and homemade bombs,” according to the statement by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
“U.S. military equipment deliveries and training are in response to Iraqi requests and support a counter-terrorism policy that incorporates political, economic, and security cooperation,” the statement said. “In the areas of security assistance, it is essential that the ISF are equipped with modern and effective weaponry to combat the serious threat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses to Iraq and the region.”
In December, the U.S. State Department approved sales of tanks and other armored vehicles to Iraq as part of a deal worth about $3 billion. The announcement coincided with a statement from the Department of Defense announcing the deployment of 1,300 U.S. troops in Iraq in 2015.