Saturday, December 20, 2014

Won't be Home for Christmas

Merry Christmas for some, meanwhile 1,300 more troops heading back to Iraq.

One thousand soldiers from the famed 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Iraq in January to begin training Iraqi and Kurdish brigades, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby announced Friday.
The 1,000 are part of 1,300 service members in total heading for Iraq next month, with the remaining 300 coming from multiple services and serving in counterintelligence, logistics and signals capacities, Kirby said.
Overall, 1,500 US troops are heading for Iraq in early 2015 to serve what are expected to be nine-month tours to train and assist nine Iraqi Army and three Kurdish Peshmerga brigades at several undisclosed sites across Iraq.
While those 1,500 US troops will bring the US contingent in Iraq to about 3,100 troops, they may be joined by as many as 1,500 additional forces from partner nations, according to senior US defense officials.
The State Department has also approved a nearly $3 billion dollar military equipment sale
The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq for M1A1 Abrams tanks and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $2.4 billion,” the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement on Friday.
Britain is also sending more troops, up to 200 right now, reportedly only in a training capacity (for now).

As Obama praised draw-down in Afghanistan at his end of the year review press conference, I wonder how long it will be before we send troops back there too, never-mind Obama's expanded the mission in Afghanistan as he claims victory for ending the war.

Obama thanks troops and marks milestone in Afghanistan
The President also marked an important milestone: After more than 13 years, we are finally bringing a responsible end to America's war in Afghanistan. When the President took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this month, we'll have fewer than 15,000 in both countries. Over the course of six years, we have brought home 90 percent of our troops.
And this month, Afghans will take full responsibility for their security:
Even as our combat mission ends, our commitment to Afghanistan endures. We’ll continue to have a limited military presence there because we’ve got to keep training and equipping Afghan forces, and we’ve got to conduct counterterrorism missions because there are still remnants of al Qaeda there. After all the sacrifices you've made, we want to preserve the gains that you've made. We want a stable and secure Afghanistan. And we want to make sure that country is never again used to launch attacks against the United States of America.

In November, however, Obama quietly expanded the role of the nearly 10,000 troops that will remain until the end of next year (at least for now)
President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.
Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions.
In an announcement in the White House Rose Garden in May, Mr. Obama said that the American military would have no combat role in Afghanistan next year, and that the missions for the 9,800 troops remaining in the country would be limited to training Afghan forces and to hunting the “remnants of Al Qaeda.”

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