100 More advisors to Iraq
The US is sending more than 100 additional troops to northern Iraq to assess the military and humanitarian situation in Irbil.
The move comes as the military is exploring oiptions to get the Yazidis off of Mount Sinjar. The logistics would be brutal and may require hundreds of US troops.
Here's how our erudite Secrectary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, announced the deployment:
"The president has authorized for me to go ahead and authorize about 130 new assessment team members," said Hagel.
Another member of the most brilliant administration in history.
He said the advisers arrived in Erbil Tuesday morning to look at humanitarian relief options for tens of thousands of people from the Yazidi religious sect. The refugees have been trapped on mountains amid fighting between Kurdish forces and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The additional troops are comprised of Marines and special operations forces from the U.S. Central Command region, according to a defense official.
"These forces will not be engaged in a combat role," the official said.
The forces will work closely with the State Department and USAID to coordinate efforts with international partners and non-government organizations to help the Yazidis, the official added.
The official said the U.S. would continue looking for ways to help Iraqis disrupted by the fighting and prevent a possible genocide by ISIS.
The president on Friday ordered airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help the Yazidis.
The U.S. currently has several dozen troops in northern Iraq manning a joint operations center in Erbil to coordinate and share intelligence with Iraqi forces.
The new advisers bring the total number of U.S. troops in the country to about 1,000.
About 100 troops are part of the U.S. embassy presence in Baghdad, and another 375 or so are providing security to the embassy and other U.S. facilities.
There are currently about 250 U.S. troops in Baghdad and Erbil who are assessing the security situation, mostly in Baghdad.
As for mounting some kind of rescue mission to get the Yazidis to safety, it appears that the Iraqi army has opened a small corridor for a few thousand Yazidis to make it safely into Kurdish held territory. But estimates of those who remain on the mountain dying of thirst range from a few thousand to 336,000.
The proposal is still under development and hasn't been approved by President Barack Obama. U.S. officials said the rescue mission is one of many options the U.S. military is weighing after dropping food and water to dying refugees over the past six days.
"People are looking at ways to do something more than just drop water and supplies," one senior U.S. official said. "You can only do that for so long."
Since last week, the U.S. has sought to halt the militants' advance on the Kurdish city of Erbil and to relieve Yazidis trapped by the fighters on a barren mountain range through a campaign of airstrikes and aid drops.
A rescue mission could expose U.S. forces to direct fire from the militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and that is a risk Mr. Obama may not be willing to accept.
It's hard to see this president taking that kind of risk. We're probably the only nation in the world that could mount an effective rescue mission in that kind of terrain and in the time frame of a few days. But Islamic State would almost certainly try to exploit the situation by killing as many Americans as they could. The president also risks failure of the mission which would be fraught with logistical problem from the start.
It looks like it's up to the Iraqi army to save those people from disaster.