The United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group will send an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq, Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, who heads a joint task force overseeing military operations in Iraq and Syria, said on Monday. The troops, drawn from a coalition of nearly 60 nations, will be in addition to the 1,500 soldiers already promised by the U.S., according to media reports.
As of now, there are nearly 1,600 U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq, and this number is likely to grow to over 3,100 in the coming months after President Barack Obama authorized a plan in November to double U.S. forces on the ground, according to media reports.
“I’m comfortable with the [U.S.] boots on the ground right now,” Terry reportedly said. “What I’ve got to do now is balance the coalition contributions.”
He, however, did not mention which countries in the coalition had pledged to send troops and what role the additional forces would play. The U.S. troops currently posted in Iraq have so far limited their involvement to training and advising Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
The U.S. intervened in Iraq in August with airstrikes targeting ISIS strongholds in the country’s northeast. However, questions have been raised over the preparedness and training of the Iraqi army, which has been unable to reclaim key cities, including Mosul in northern Iraq, from ISIS militants.
“While [the Iraqi security forces] have a long way to go I think they're becoming more capable every day,” Terry reportedly said. “When you start now to balance the different capabilities out across the coalition, I think we're doing pretty well in terms of boots on the ground."