National Security

Report: Generals Preparing to Ask Obama for More Troops in Iraq

A U.S. marine observe children play in Ramadi / AP

U.S. generals are preparing to request that President Obama deploy hundreds of additional troops to Iraq to advance the fight against ISIS.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that senior Pentagon officials must first approve the proposal before it can be submitted to the White House.

Army Lt. Gen Sean MacFarland, commander of coalition forces in Iraq, is among senior military leaders, congressional officials, and generals frustrated by what they consider "arbitrary" caps on troop levels implemented by the White House.

Military leaders heading operations against ISIS in Iraq have also criticized a process that discourages officials from requesting necessary troops and resources, Josh Rogin wrote in the Post report.

The Obama administration deployed 217 additional troops to Iraq in April. MacFarland told reporters at the time that if the added personnel failed to accomplish the goal of retaking Mosul he would ask the White House for more.

Jack Keane, a retired four-star general former vice chief of staff of the Army, told the Washington Post that generals need more "tactical air controllers and advisers embedded with units closer to the fight," but haven’t yet requested hundreds more troops because of pressure from superiors.

The U.S. currently has under 4,100 troops deployed in Iraq, according official numbers reported by the Military Times. Roughly 900 more U.S. soldiers in Iraq are not included in the official troop count because they are part of Special Operations forces or temporarily assigned.

Obama has been reluctant to send additional troops to Iraq. He promised during his 2008 campaign that he would pull American troops out of the region and declared in 2011 that the Iraq war was over.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said that asking the administration for the needed resources has been "like pulling teeth."

"[Obama] doesn’t want his legacy to be that he went back into Iraq," Graham said. "The next president is going to have to finish the job and is going to have a mess on their hands."