Headquarters Elements Deploy to Iraq

The air campaign that launched in Syria late Monday is meant to strategically degrade ISIS, a significant contrast to the air strikes being conducted in Iraq, which have been far more “tactical,” aiming to blunt ground movements, break sieges, and support Iraqi and Kurdish forces, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby on Thursday. While no US combat troops are in theater yet, the US is expanding its advise and assist forces in Iraq. Kirby told reporters Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday signed the deployment order for around 500 soldiers from the Army’s 1st Infantry Division Headquarters to deploy in October to buttress command centers in Iraq. Around 138 of these troops will deploy to the operations center in Baghdad, and 68 will go to Irbil, Kurdistan, with 10 more working from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, he said. The remainder will deploy to US Central Command, though they will be located outside of Iraq. Kirby stressed the deployment was a headquarters element, to serve in a command and control capacity aiding Iraqi and Kurdish planners, not to be confused with the teams of advisors embedding at the brigade level and higher.