Albuquerque, N.M. The US military is sending more than 600 troops to help Iraqi forces retake Mosul, shoring up the logistics and continuing the buildup of a remote airfield for the fight. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday the troops are headed to locations across Iraq, including Qayyarah West and al Asad air fields, to act as “enablers” for Iraqi Security Forces to retake Mosul and assist in holding territory they take. The new troops are “in the same categories as existing forces,” focused on assisting in logistics and training Iraqi forces, along with shoring up intelligence operations for the Mosul fight, Carter told reporters during an impromptu press conference in Albuquerque. The new approved ceiling for the number of troops deployed to Iraq is 5,262, a senior defense official said. The exact number of new troops heading to Iraq “in the coming weeks” is 615, the official said. The additional troops were approved by President Obama at the recommendation of Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi said Wednesday the Iraqi government requested a final increase in US troops as the Mosul advance “intensifies,” according to Reuters. Dunford said last week Iraqi forces are trained and ready for the fight, and are just waiting on the political leadership for the go ahead.
While some of the Air Force's newly announced changes will happen quickly, it may take most of Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin's tenure in the job to accomplish the rest, he said in a Brookings Institution event Feb. 28.