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US military advisers reach Baghdad, says Pentagon

world Updated: Jun 25, 2014 09:36 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times

US military advisors reached Baghdad on Tuesday as Americans continued to debate the shape and form of intervention, with most of them unwilling to do more show polls.

The Pentagon announced that 40 Special Operations personnel were redeployed locally from the US embassy, while 90 more were flown in from the Central Command region.

Another group of 50 personnel will join them shortly.

“These teams will assess the cohesiveness and readiness of Iraqi security forces, higher headquarters in Baghdad, and examine the most effective and efficient way to introduce follow-on advisers,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear admiral John Kirby.

The 90 personnel flown in from outside Iraq include a mix of special operation personnel, intelligence analysts, technicians and they will help “stand up a joint operations center”.

And, starting last week, the United States will be flying 30 to 35 “routine and regular ISR missions” (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) every day.

President Barack Obama announced last Thursday he was prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to help Iraqi forces fend off Islamic State of Iraq and Syria insurgents said to be readying to advance on Baghdad.

But even that small number is too many for many Americans, including the president who took that step with great reluctance and assured the country US troops are “not going to be fighting in Iraq again”.

Americans are largely divided on military intervention in Iraq, according to a poll by The New York Times and CBS TV, with most approving the course chosen by Obama.

Forty-one per cent of the respondents said Obama was on target, while 29% said he should do more and 22% felt he should do less.

Republicans, by and large, are for more.

Their leaders, lawmakers such as John McCain and Lindsay Graham, have been at the forefront demanding more, with former George W Bush aides including Dick Cheney.

They believe Obama threw away a war that had been won, by not trying hard enough to persuade Iraq to allow a residual force to stay behind after US pullout in 2011.

Last American troops left Iraq in December 2011 in the third of the president’s first term. His critics have said because he ran against the war, he was only too happy to end it.

The Obama administration has argued that it was impossible to leave behind American troops after the Iraqi government refused to grant them immunity from local laws.