Obama Doubles the Number of U.S. Troops in Iraq

July 1, 2014 - 5:11 AM

ISIL

Fightersfrom the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) celebrate the group's declaration of an Islamic state, in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, on Monday, June 30, 2014. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Two weeks after he told the nation he was sending 300 American military advisers to Iraq, President Obama has doubled the number of U.S. troops in that dangerous part of the world.

The president notified Congress on Monday, in a letter, that he is sending another 300 troops to Iraq. Two hundred of them will boost security at the large U.S. embassy and at the international airport in Baghdad; they arrieved on Sunday and Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Another 100 troops, who had been on standby in the Middle East since mid-June, will go to Baghdad to provide security and logistics support, the Pentagon announced.

"The president authorized this augmentation as a prudent measure to protect U.S. citizens and property," Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

"The presence of these additional forces will help enable the embassy to continue its critical diplomatic mission and work with Iraq on challenges they are facing as they confront Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant."

Kirby noted that these American forces are "separate and apart from the up to 300 personnel the president authorized to establish two joint operations centers and conduct an assessment of how the U.S. can provide additional support to Iraq's security forces as they confront the grave threat posed by ISIL."

The troops are bringing more helicopters and drones with them, to improve the security of airfields and travel routes, the Pentagon said.

On June 19, as terrorists advanced in Iraq, President Obama announced that he was sending military advisers back to Iraq to train advise and support the disintegrating Iraqi security forces.

"American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well," President Obama said at the time.

In response to a reporter's question, Obama said, "I think we always have to guard against mission creep, so let me repeat what I’ve said in the past:  American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again."

Obama said it is in our national security interests not to see a destabilizing civil war in Iraq, and he said energy markets are another important consideration.

"We also have an interest in making sure that we don’t have a safe haven that continues to grow for ISIL and other extremist jihadist groups who could use that as a base of operations for planning and targeting ourselves, our personnel overseas, and eventually the homeland," Obama said on June 19.

"So we have humanitarian interests in preventing bloodshed.  We have strategic interests in stability in the region.  We have counter-terrorism interests.  All those have to be addressed."