The Pentagon has opened the door to the possibility of sending additional US troops to the Middle East as part of an expanded NATO training mission to support Iraqi forces.
US signals it is open to sending more troops to support NATO's mission in Iraq
STEPANAKERT, FEBRUARY 19, ARTSAKHPRESS: "The US is participating in the force generation process for NATO Mission Iraq and will contribute its fair share to this important expanded mission," Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Jessica L. McNulty told CNN.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shared the mission with his NATO counterparts during a meeting with Defense Ministers. Late the night before, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby clarified that there were no plans to send additional US troops to Iraq. However, US troops may also support the mission from outside the country, a Defense Department spokesman told CNN.
Such a move would be a change in the policy of the previous administration, which reduced the number of troops in the country to 2,500.
At a press conference on Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the NATO mission would grow from 500 to about 4,000.
The United States and its partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS remain committed to ensuring the ultimate defeat of ISIS, and the Pentagon looks forward to continued consultations with Iraq, NATO and the Global Coalition in the future, McNulty added.
Stoltenberg noted the importance of NATO's mission to prevent the resurgence of ISIS.