Pentagon Dispatches Reinforcement to Baghdad

There are 650 military personnel with boots on the ground in Iraq out of a total authorized force of 770, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby on Tuesday. The personnel either are reinforcing security at the US Embassy in Baghdad and nearby support facilities, or serving with assessment and advisory teams at the joint operations center in Baghdad, according to a July 1 release. Many of the US forces arrived in Iraq on June 29 from the US Central Command area of responsibility, along with a detachment of helicopters and remotely piloted aircraft, which will be used to “bolster airfield and travel route security,” said Kirby. The Pentagon has already confirmed the US is operating some armed RPAs in Iraqi airspace for ISR purposes. “We obviously are watching the situation very closely, … given the limits of information that we have,” Kirby said. Also on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement welcoming what he called an “enormous and very significant commitment” by Saudi Arabia “to help its neighbor.” Saudi Arabia’s $500 million pledge is part of a growing international humanitarian response to the crisis, which Kerry said “is worsening by the day.” (Kirby transcript.)