The U.S military will deploy a new special operations force to Iraq to step up the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISI) militants unleashing violence in Iraq and Syria,Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress on Tuesday.
Carter told the House Armed Services Committee that the special operations force will be able to conduct raids,free hostages,gather intelligence and capture ISIS leaders. Carter said that would improve intelligence and generate more target for attacks.
There currently are about 3,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, and President Barack Obama had previously announced he was sending fewer than 50 special operations forces to Syria. There has been a growing call from some Republicans for more U.S. ground forces and a divide among war-weary Americans about the prospect of greater military involvement.
Carter said the number in the new expeditionary force will be “larger” than 50. He said it will be a “standing” force, meaning it will be stationed in Iraq. He said it would focus on helping Iraq defend its borders and build the Iraqi security forces, but also would be in position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria.
“This is an important capability because it takes advantage of what we’re good at,” Carter said. “We’re good at intelligence, we’re good at mobility, we’re good at surprise. We have the long reach that no one else has. And it puts everybody on notice in Syria. You don’t know at night who’s going to be coming in the window. And that’s the sensation that we want all of ISIL’s leadership and followers to have.”
ISIL is another name for ISIS.
According to a U.S. official, the force could total up to a couple hundred troops, including the assault teams, aviation units and other support units. It would likely be based in Irbil.