The Obama administration has pointed out that it needs local security forces in Iraq to turn around the security situation in the country, as air power alone cannot do it. The U.S. just took the first step in that direction. The 1st Infantry Division headquarters is being sent to Iraq for an advisory mission, and three units have been deployed to bases in Anbar and Diyala.
On September 25, 2014 it was announced that the 1st Infantry Division headquarters was being sent to Iraq to train the Iraqi forces. Earlier in the month 475 troops were deployed for advising the ISF. They are just now being sent out into the field. One unit arrived in Karkush base in central Diyala on October 15. That same day 100 U.S. advisers arrived in Al Taqadum base outside of Habaniya, which is situated between Ramadi and Fallujah, and to Al-Assad that is outside Baghdadi and to the south of Haditha. That last base is a dangerous one. The day before it was reported that the Islamic State had attacked Al-Assad. It was also assaulting neighboring Baghdadi from two directions. This is part of IS’s on going campaign to seize all of Anbar. That could mean that these new advisers will not only come under fire, but might have to return it as well. President Obama has said that he is not sending ground forces to Iraq, but these forward advisors might end up in combat.
Security in Anbar is dire with the Islamic State having seized much of the center of the province in the last few days. The local council and governor have desperately asked Baghdad for aid and assistance, and recently called for U.S. troops to be sent there to help reverse the situation. Part of their wishes has now been met. American advisers are in two bases in the center of the governorate, which is where the heaviest fighting is now taking place. This is the first substantive move by the Obama administration to build up local forces on the ground, which is what is necessary to really turn back the insurgency. On the other hand, training the ISF and tribes is a long-term process, and Anbar may not have that much time. A spate of towns and cities has just fallen, and IS is pushing hard on seizing other areas including Al-Assad base. That means American troops are in harms, and there could be casualties. Hundreds more advisers also need to be sent to Iraq if the U.S. has any real hope of turning around the Iraqi forces so this is only a baby step in that direction. Still, Anbar is one of the main battlefronts in Iraq and something has to be done there to save the province from falling. These advisers could be a step in that direction.
Arabic CNN, “Anbar police chief for CNN: Daash caught one of the largest air bases..and the Alliance performs 21 raids with the participation of Saudis on Kobani,” 10/14/14
Harper, Jon, “Army sending division HQ element to Iraq,” Stars and Stripes, 9/25/14
National Iraqi News Agency, “Anbar provincial council: /100/ American military personnel arrived to the province to train the security forces and the sons of the tribes,” 10/15/14
- “Breaking News….The Islamic State attacks Haditha district from two directions,” 10/14/14
Shafaq News, “Security official reveals the tasks of American advisers in Diyala,” 10/15/14