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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

Posted: 8:25 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

More U.S. soldiers to Iraq to defend embassy in Baghdad 

By Jamie Dupree

The White House announced on Tuesday evening that President Obama had approved a State Department request to have the Pentagon send more military personnel to Iraq, in order to defend the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad, the largest American diplomatic facility in the world.

The extra 350 military personnel would bring the total of American servicemembers in Iraq to around 1,300, acting in roles as military advisers or for protection of U.S. diplomats inside Iraq, as the White House made clear that these extra troops "will not serve in a combat role."

In a statement issued by the White House, while the issue of countering Islamic State forces was mentioned, this latest U.S. military force to be ordered to Iraq will not be fighting Islamic State militants in the field, as the Obama Administration looks for other allies to help with that possibility.

Here is the statement from the White House on the additional military deployments - for diplomatic protection - in Iraq:

Statement by the Press Secretary on Iraq

Today, the President authorized the Department of Defense to fulfill a Department of State request for approximately 350 additional U.S. military personnel to protect our diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad, Iraq.  This action was taken at the recommendation of the Department of Defense after an extensive interagency review, and is part of the President's commitment to protect our personnel and facilities in Iraq as we continue to support the Government of Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  These additional forces will not serve in a combat role. 

The President has made clear his commitment to doing whatever is required to provide the necessary security for U.S. personnel and facilities around the world.  The request he approved today will allow some previously deployed military personnel to depart Iraq, while at the same time providing a more robust, sustainable security force for our personnel and facilities in Baghdad. 

In addition to our efforts to protect our personnel, we will continue to support the Government of Iraq's efforts to counter ISIL, which poses a threat not only to Iraq, but to the broader Middle East and U.S. personnel and interests in the region.  The President will be consulting this week with NATO allies regarding additional actions to take against ISIL and to develop a broad-based international coalition to implement a comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners in the fight against ISIL.  As part of this effort, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Hagel, and President Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, Lisa Monaco, will be traveling separately to the region in the near-term to build a stronger regional partnership.

The Pentagon also chimed in with their own release, which said support personnel for those 350 U.S. soldiers would actually total out to over 400 extra people going to Baghdad for diplomatic defense work:

Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby on Security Personnel in Iraq

"The President's action today will result in a net increase of approximately 350 additional military personnel on the ground in Baghdad providing security at the Baghdad Embassy Compound and its support facilities.

This builds upon previous embassy security deployments announced on June 15 and June 30 and will bring the total forces responsible for augmenting diplomatic security in Iraq up to approximately 820.

The additional joint forces will come from within the U.S. Central Command area of operations and will include a headquarters element, medical personnel, associated helicopters, and an air liaison team.

In all, 405 U.S. military personnel will be sent to Baghdad to provide a more robust and sustainable security presence to help the Department of State continue their critical mission.

With this order, 55 personnel who have been in Baghdad since June will redeploy outside of Iraq. Those 55 personnel will remain postured to deal with other security contingencies in the region, if necessary.

The Department of Defense will continue to plan and prepare further military options should they become necessary, and we will remain ready to protect our diplomats, our citizens, and our interests in Iraq, while we continue to work with the Iraqi government to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant."


Jamie Dupree

About Jamie Dupree

Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog.

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