Obama sends 1,500 additional troops to Iraq to combat ISIS

 Kristina Wong and Rebecca Shabad --- The Hill 

President Obama is ordering up to 1,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), bringing the American force to more than 3,000 troops.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the troops will serve in a "noncombat role, to expand our advise and assist mission, and initiate a comprehensive training effort for Iraqi forces." 

The troops are heading to Iraq "over the coming months.”

The move is the latest escalation in the U.S.-led fight against ISIS, which has captured large parts of Iraq and Syria.

It would bring the total number of U.S. forces deployed to 3,200. Obama previously authorized 1,600 troops to Iraq in addition to a 100-man security force at the Iraqi Embassy. 1,400 troops have already been deployed.

Despite the growing U.S. presence, the president has insisted American forces would not be involved in combat and will only play a training and advisory role.

The move is likely to spark debate on Capitol Hill and raise fears of mission creep. Lawmakers have called for a new authorization of military force against ISIS. It is unclear, though, whether they would take up the matter during the lame-duck session or wait for the new Congress.

Kirby said the recommendation for additional forces was made by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to the president based on Baghdad’s requests, the Pentagon’s own assessment of Iraqi forces and the progress they have made against ISIS.

To pay for the new request, the White House is asking Congress to approve $5.6 billion in funds.

A senior Obama administration official said Friday that they expect Congress to approve the new funding request by the time the current government spending bill expires Dec. 11. 

"Our expectation is this will get resolved in the lame-duck session as Congress resolves spending bills for the rest of the 2015 fiscal year," the official said. 

The official said this funding request would be separate from any vote lawmakers might hold on the authorization for use of military force. 

Of that request, $1.6 billion would be used to establish a fund to develop and support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces, as they confront ISIS, Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan announced Friday.

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