- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2015

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Friday that the U.S. might need to send non-combat ground troops to Iraq to help push back Islamic State forces.

Mr. Hagel told CNN on Friday that all options must be considered in Iraq, including sending troops for non-combat roles such as intelligence gathering and locating Islamic State targets.

“I think it may require a forward deployment of some of our troops…,” he said, Reuters reported. “I would say we’re not there yet. Whether we get there or not, I don’t know.”

Mr. Hagel also said he clashed with White House officials over the release of prisoners from the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He told CNN that the White House did not agree with his cautious approach for the release of prisoners saying there were disagreements on “the pace of release.”

When asked if he had been pressured to speed up the releases, Mr. Hagel said, “We’ve had a lot of conversations” with the White House and Congress.

The comments came one day after reports that a Guantanamo detainee released as part of the prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may have tried to return to militant activity.

SEE ALSO: Gen. Lloyd Austin: Iraq’s battle for Mosul will take place before summer

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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