- The Washington Times - Friday, January 29, 2016

Hundreds of additional forces including trainers, advisers and commandos are needed in the fight against the Islamic State, Pentagon top brass has conceded, prompting Department of Defense officials to urge the White House to approve further deployments to Iraq and Syria in the coming weeks.

Defense Department officials told the White House that the U.S.-led effort to destroy the Islamic State requires still more manpower in addition to the roughly 3,700 American troops already in Iraq, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Citing senior White House and Pentagon sources, The Times said the officials determined hundreds more military experts are needed in the region to take on the terror group, with one suggesting that the number of troops increases to 4,500.

Admission from the Obama administration that more troops are needed followed recent remarks from Defense Department officials who expressed a desire to adjust U.S. operations abroad.

“We’re looking for opportunities to do more,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told CNN in an interview last week. “We’re not looking to substitute for local forces in terms of governing the place and policing the place.”

“I have personally reached out to the ministers of defense in over 40 countries around the world to ask them to contribute to enhancing the fight against ISIL — more special operations forces, more strike and reconnaissance aircraft, weapons and munitions, training assistance, as well as combat support and combat service support,” Mr. Carter said recently, using an alternative acronym for the group also known as ISIS. “I expect the number of trainers to increase, and also the variety of the training they’re giving.”

Indeed, Defense Department officials told The Times that the Pentagon is not prepared to add ground troops to its anti-ISIS fight — a point President Obama has stuck with throughout the year-and-a-half fight. Instead, rather, hundreds of additional experts from the U.S. and allied militaries would be sent overseas to assist training Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian opposition fighters in the region.

Already, though, the Pentagon’s attempt at preparing foreign rebels to fight the terror group has raised a number of red flags, and a $500 million program intended to train and equip Syrian opposition fighters was nixed in October after officials conceded that the number of rebels who had been successfully vetted failed to surpass single digits.

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