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Ashton Carter: We Equipped Iraqi Security Forces Too Slowly

• June 17, 2015 1:05 pm

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Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter admitted Wednesday that the U.S. was too late in providing support to Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State terrorists, CNN reported.

"We… determined that our equipping of the Iraqi Security Forces had proceeded too slowly," Carter said.

Carter appeared before the House Armed Services Committee to discuss the United States’ approach to Iraq.

Swaths of the country, including important cities like Mosul, have been conquered by IS since the U.S. withdrew from the country in late 2011.

In response to IS gains, the Obama administration announced last week that it would supplement the residual U.S. force of 3,100 troops in Iraq with 450 additional troops. These troops are tasked with equipping and training the Iraqi Security Forces. None are approved for combat or advising roles on the front lines.

Additionally, the administration is expediting much-needed shipments of arms to the Iraqi Security Force.

Administration members have indicated that even more troops will be necessary to accomplish the president’s stated goal of "degrading and destroying" the Islamic State.

Outside experts have estimated that 25,000 U.S. troops could be necessary to defeat IS, a far greater commitment to victory than the president has demonstrated he is willing to make.

The president’s gradual reintroduction of troops to Iraq has been criticized as ineffective. Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd referred to the approach as a "containment" strategy rather than a "destruction" strategy.

The Obama administration’s reluctance to provide aid to U.S. allies has provoked anger elsewhere in the world, notably in Ukraine. The U.S. has committed "nonlethal" military aid to the country, which is fighting separatists and Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine, but has refused to provide weapons.

"I would not recommend that we put U.S. forces in harm's way simply to stiffen the spine of local forces," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said. "If their spine is not stiffened by the threat of ISIL or their way of life, nothing we do is going to stiffen their spine."

Published under: Ash Carter, CNN, Iraq, Islamic State