President Obama on Tuesday approved sending 350 additional U.S. military personnel to Iraq to protect American facilities in Baghdad, part of a White House attempt to limit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria gains in the embattled region.
“The president has made clear his commitment to doing whatever is required to provide the necessary security for U.S. personnel and facilities around the world,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, adding that the extra military personnel would not serve in a combat role.
“The request he approved today will allow some previously deployed military personnel to depart Iraq, while at the same time providing a more robust, sustainable security force for our personnel and facilities in Baghdad,” Earnest said.
With Obama’s latest action, 820 military members will be in Iraq for diplomatic security purposes, the Pentagon said. Of those military personnel, 405 will be dispatched to Baghdad.
“The Department of Defense will continue to plan and prepare further military options should they become necessary, and we will remain ready to protect our diplomats, our citizens, and our interests in Iraq, while we continue to work with the Iraqi government to counter [ISIS],” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.
The announcement came as Obama traveled to a NATO summit in Europe that will focus largely on how to best combat ISIS.
Obama has been on the defensive since conceding last week that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for a broader confrontation with the militant group. The president, however, has authorized more than 120 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.