President Obama has authorized the Department of Defense to deploy up to 1,500 additional U.S. personnel to Iraq to assist Iraqi forces in battling the Islamic State, the Pentagon said Friday. There are currently around 1,400 U.S. military members in Iraq, reported Reuters.
The administration is also asking Congress for $5 billion in funding, reports the Assocated Press.
The authorization comes on the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who said that the Iraqi government, along with U.S. Central Command, requested additional troops in the offensive against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
"Ultimately, these Iraqi forces, when fully trained, will enable Iraq to better defend its citizens, its borders, and its interests against the threat of ISIL," the Pentagon said in a statement. "This effort is in keeping with our overarching strategy to work with partners on the ground to destroy ISIL."
As part of the addition of forces, the U.S. will establish two operation centers located outside of Baghdad and Erbil to provide support to Iraqis at or above the brigade headquarters level, the Pentagon said. The U.S. will also create several sites in northern, western and southern Iraq to train nine Iraqi army brigades and three brigades of Kurdish fighters, known as the Peshmerga.
Funding for the training sites will come from both the Iraqi government and an Iraq Train and Equip fund that the Obama adminstration will submit to the U.S. Congress.
News of the Pentagon's deployment of additional forces to Iraq follows Obama's meeting with congressional leaders on Friday to update them on the fight against the Islamic State.