Escalation: 350 US Troops Redeployed to Baghdad

Posted: Sep 03, 2014 10:05 AM

The fight against ISIS has clearly intensified over the past 24 hours. We learned only yesterday, for example, that another American journalist was beheaded by the terrorist army, which has pledged to continue these grisly executions until the president calls off any and all airstrike campaigns against them.

As a result, the White House announced late last night 350 US troops will be redeployed to Baghdad. The administration was quick to emphasize, however, that they are not combat troops, per se, but security forces sent only to protect American assets and personnel:

President Barack Obama has ordered an increase of about 350 troops in Baghdad to protect the U.S. Embassy in the Iraqi capital and is sending top officials to the Middle East to "build a stronger regional partnership" against Islamic State militants, the White House said on Tuesday.

The actions reflect the growing U.S. concern about the threat posed by the Sunni Muslim militants who have captured parts of Iraq and Syria, and came on the same day that Islamic State released a video purporting to show its beheading of a second American hostage.

This brings the total number of active duty US troops in the country to more than 800 strong:

Approximately 820 troops have now been assigned to augment diplomatic security in Iraq, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon's spokesman.

Last week, Obama said he was still searching for solutions to deal with the increasingly violent terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS. Pressure mounted Tuesday as the organization released a video purporting to show a militant executing a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff. The video was released two weeks after the group released a video of the execution of American journalist James Foley.

The Department of Defense released this statement last night in order to provide some additional details about the operation:

The additional joint forces will come from within the U.S. Central Command area of operations and will include a headquarters element, medical personnel, associated helicopters, and an air liaison team.

In all, 405 U.S. military personnel will be sent to Baghdad to provide a more robust and sustainable security presence to help the Department of State continue their critical mission.

With this order, 55 personnel who have been in Baghdad since June will redeploy outside of Iraq. Those 55 personnel will remain postured to deal with other security contingencies in the region, if necessary.

The Department of Defense will continue to plan and prepare further military options should they become necessary, and we will remain ready to protect our diplomats, our citizens, and our interests in Iraq, while we continue to work with the Iraqi government to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant."

President Obama delivered a speech this morning about Russian aggression in Estonia -- and will travel to Wales tomorrow for a NATO summit.