- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The State Department wants the Pentagon to send additional troops to Iraq — an indication that the battle to defeat the Islamic State group is steadily growing.

A senior Pentagon official said Wednesday that the State Department is seeking a small boost in troop numbers, similar to the incremental increases the Obama administration has approved for the operation in northern Iraq.

“There is a request by the State Department for additional U.S. personnel, and my understanding is that it’s for less than 300 [troops],” the official said.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To date, the Obama administration has placed 849 military personnel in Iraq and tasked them with conducting airstrikes, providing assessments and providing Iraqi forces with intelligence, according to Pentagon officials.

Those personnel have been working to protect U.S. Embassy staff and Yazidi religious minorities. They have grown in number from about 780 in early July to 849, Pentagon officials said.