NEW YORK (CNN) – The Pentagon now admitting the number of US troops in Iraq could rise again depending on what President Obama decides.
“Is there a grand total? No. But, in terms of a grand total limit, he’s the commander in chief, he makes these decisions,” said Rear Admiral John Kirby.
The Sunni backed militants are now at the northwestern edges of Baghdad.
“That hasn’t let up it’s difficult to tell what their intent is,” Admiral Kirby continued.
Leading the U.S. to escalate its involvement for one crucial reason, Baghdad international airport. U.S. military officials believe the airport must be protected from attack. It’s the only way to evacuate thousands of Americans out of Baghdad if the embassy or the city itself comes under fire. Hundreds of additional U.S. military personnel will go to the airport with armed helicopters and drones. If needed, they will fly overhead between the embassy and the airport looking for signs of ISIS on the move.
Northwest Baghdad where the airport is located very much is the militants crosshairs. It’s the third escalation of us force in two weeks. At the U.S. embassy in Baghdad there have been up to 200 troops working at the embassy for the last several years. But then on June 16th 275 additional troops were ordered to beef up security.
Three days later President Obama announced up to 300 military advisers would be sent in after several Iraqi divisions collapsed in the face of an ISIS advance.
Then on Monday 200 more troops were sent to Baghdad to reinforce the embassy, the airport and key roads. The pentagon insists there is no mission creep. Not everyone buys that.
“We haven’t defined what our mission is. Is the mission to prop up the Iraqi government? Is the mission to evacuate Americans and get out of there? Is the mission to re-supply and support the Iraqi army on the ground? I don’t think we’ve heard a clear explanation from the president of the secretary of defense exactly what we’re doing there,” said Lt. Col. Rick Francona.
The issue now of course is Iraqi forces. If fighting comes to Baghdad will they stand and fight.