The United States has begun training Iraqi army recruits, a central part of the strategy by the U.S.-led coalition that is working with the Iraqi government to retake territory and ultimately defeat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in the country.
Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters today that six weeks of training began Dec. 27 for four battalions of Iraqi security forces at a base in Taji, north of Baghdad. Training began at Asad Air Base in Anbar province for members of the Iraqi 7th Division several days earlier.
Warren said all of the Iraqis going through the training by U.S. personnel already have been vetted.
Warren said the air base has been the target of “regular indirect enemy fire,” which he said has been wholly ineffective and has drawn no return fire from U.S. forces.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
The training mission is part of Operation Inherent Resolve, which -- along with targeted coalition airstrikes being carried in both Iraq and Syria -- is intended to degrade and defeat ISIL terrorists who hold large sections of territory along the countries’ shared border.
About 2,100 U.S. military personnel are in Iraq advising and assisting Iraqi forces and providing protection to U.S. personnel and missions. That figure is expected to grow by as many as 1,300 later this month as part of the expanded U.S. military presence President Barack Obama ordered in November to help Iraq reclaim territory taken by ISIL.
In total, 12 Iraqi brigades are expected to be trained -- nine from the Iraqi security forces and three from the Kurdish peshmerga. Two other locations in Iraq, one in Irbil and another in Besmaya, are expected to host training missions as well.