The Pentagon is sending 560 more troops to Iraq to build on momentum against ISIS in the country and prepare for the assault on Mosul. Iraqi forces over the weekend captured a strategic airfield near the town of Qayyarah, a major stepping stone toward Mosul—a city Defense Secretary Ash Carter has called a “parent tumor” of ISIS. The new deployment will bring the total number of US troops deployed in Iraq to about 4,750. The new troops will “provide a range of support” for Iraqi forces, including infrastructure and logistical support, according to a Defense Department statement. “At every step in this campaign, we have generated and seized additional opportunities to hasten ISIL’s lasting defeat,” Carter said. “These additional US forces will bring unique capabilities to the campaign and provide critical enabler support to Iraqi forces at a key moment in the fight.” Carter made the announcement while visiting? Iraq on Monday, where he met with Iraqi leaders including Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi. (See also: Iraqi Forces Liberate Fallujah From ISIS.)
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.