President Obama authorized up to 450 additional US military personnel to train, advise, and assist Iraq security force at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province, according to a June 10 White House statement. “These new advisors will work to build [the] capacity of Iraqi forces, including local tribal fighters, to improve their ability to plan, lead, and conduct operations against ISIL in eastern Anbar under the command of the prime minister,” according to the statement. The training site will “complement” the four previously established sites in al-Asad, Besmaya, Erbil, and Taji, where some 9,000 Iraqi troops have already been trained and another 3,000 are currently in training. “These additional troops will not serve in a combat role and will augment the 3,100 US troops who have already deployed to Iraq,” according to the statement. The Pentagon emphasized the “decision does not represent a change in mission,” but will enable Iraqi forces “to better defend its citizens and retake its territory” from ISIS, according to a June 10 Defense Department statement. The President asked military leaders to examine areas that have been successful and those that “may have been moving at a pace that’s late-to-need or where certain units have not stood and fought,” said Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, referencing the recent fall of Ramadi, where many Iraqis left the city without a fight despite outnumbering ISIS forces.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.