Ash Carter, the US defense secretary went to Iraq on Wednesday paying a surprise visit to the war zone. His stated aim of the visit is to find ways of hastening the fall and ultimate destruction of the Islamic State. Carter in Iraq is planning to meet various Iraqi leaders and US army personnel so that American assistance in the country can be further enhanced. The US is apparently willing to commit ground troops and helicopters to the fight against IS.
Since the weather conditions in the country are not particularly favorable at the moment, it is not clear which leaders Carter will be able to meet with in Iraq. The battle in Ramadi is the main focus these days. Ramadi is the capital of the Anbar province which was captured by Islamic State during the beginning of this year. Iraqi forces are preparing an assault on the city in order to wrestle it back from IS. However, the progress has been rather slow in this regard.
Carter stated that he is seeking to find ways in which other members of the coalition may contribute in the campaign. One way of accomplishing this is to ask the allies to share the burden by carrying out some of the missions currently being undertaken by the US troops. It is noteworthy here that the number of US troops in Iraq is around 3,500 at the moment. If the allies agree to share some of the burden, the US troops will be free to engage in some of the specialized tasks.
Carter in Iraq will also meet with the Iraqi and American commanders in order to share insight regarding the deployment of special commandos in the country. These units will be more suitable in intelligence collection so that IS leaders can be targeted and killed. Known as the ‘expeditionary targeting force’, these units will undoubtedly increase the pressure on the militant group. The exact date of the deployment of these troops is not yet revealed by the US.
If Iraqi leaders request the US, the latter will also send Apache helicopters to aid in the looming battle for Ramadi.
However, no such request has been received by the US. Carter in Iraq, commented on the US’ willingness to send Apaches by saying that they will make a great difference during the battle. He will also discuss the offer with Iraqi leaders.