US may send troops to Iraq as spotters, scouts

U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with soldiers in Iraq November 15, 2014. (Reuters/Phil Stewart)

Outgoing US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has acknowledged that neutralizing Islamic State in Iraq may require American troops on the ground with non-combat roles, such as gathering intelligence and locating targets. All options must be considered, Hagel said in an interview to CNN. “I think it may require a forward deployment of some of our troops,” said Hagel as quoted by the ABC News. “Not doing the fighting. Not doing the combat work that we did at one time for six years in Iraq. We did for many many years in Afghanistan. But to help airstrike precision… locate. Those are things where we could continue support.” “It could be necessary,” he said. “It could be, but I’m not willing to say that it will be necessary.” “Whether we get there or not, I don’t know whether that’s something our military commanders recommend into the future, I don’t know,” the outgoing Defense Secretary stressed. Last November, Hagel insisted that Americans “will not be engaged in a ground combat mission.” Such troops would not explicitly take on a fighting role, though, but, according to him, assist local forces in situations where maneuvering against the Islamic State militants on their own would be problematic. As of now, the US have 4,500 troops in Iraq for training and advising Iraqi military, Reuters reports. To fight Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL) effectively, Iraq will require roughly 80,000 US-trained local forces, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey acknowledged at a Congress hearing in November. More