News / Middle East

Pentagon: No Rush to Boost Role in Iraq

Pentagon: No Rush to Boost Role in Iraqi
July 16, 2014 3:29 AM
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is taking a hard look at assessments by special forces teams in Iraq, focusing on the state of the Iraqi security forces and the threat posed by Sunni militants. But defense officials say despite a complex and fluid situation on the ground, there will be no rush to move forward with additional help. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is taking a hard look at assessments by special forces teams in Iraq, focusing on the state of the Iraqi security forces and the threat posed by Sunni militants. Defense officials say despite a complex and fluid situation on the ground, there will be no rush to move forward with additional help.

In Baghdad, there are fears that scenes of violence, like the aftermath of a recent deadly car bombing, are about to become the new normal.

In the north, attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have Shi’ites running for their lives.

"Some of the people were buried under the rubble of their houses, while others were shot dead in the street," said Abbas Ali, a Shi’ite Turkmen.

But for all the tales of horror, Pentagon officials say they are seeing some progress - Iraqi forces moving to retake the city of Tikrit and recapturing and holding the country's largest oil refinery.

“I don’t know that I’m prepared here to qualify and say absolutely the momentum’s been broken, but certainly the Iraqis are fighting back and ultimately, and we said this at the very outset, this has got to be their fight,” said Pentagon Spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.

How much the U.S. will help in that fight remains a question.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other senior leaders are just now looking over the initial reports by U.S. teams sent to Iraq to assess the situation. There also is no timeline for how long the review will take and no guarantee they will recommend anything more than the surveillance flights, guns and ammunition already being provided.

“The long term solution for Iraq security is a stable inclusive political process,” said Kirby.

In the meantime, Iraq has been turning to Russia and Iran for help, like fighter jets.

Experts testifying before Congress Wednesday, like retired Army General Jack Keane, see that as a problem.

“The fact of the matter is Iran has an influence here.  And I think as we sit here and not do much of anything, that influence will grow in stature,” said Keane.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey told lawmakers Washington needs to flex its military muscle.

“Limited military force would be a leverage factor, a multiplier of our influence because right now it will make all the difference and people are wondering whether we’re going to do it,” said Jeffrey.

In addition to teams on the ground, the U.S. has an aircraft carrier and destroyers in the Persian Gulf. But for now they are just watching carefully while Shi’ite militias take up arms to defend shrines and towns from a possible ISIL advance.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
July 16, 2014 6:51 AM
As time progresses the situation may improve in Iraq, as long as the Kurdish areas remain stable. A very serious concern become the militias, because militias in other conflicts have: been/are tribal; carry out much of the ethnic cleansing; much of the unlawful killings; are unruly; over time they end up challenging the central gvmt; they start turning into warlord run organizations; they further polarize populations; they regionalize their power to the detriment of the gvmt....etc, all big negatives. Militias need to be integrated into the chain of command, their powers curtailed, their operational tasks very well defined, and they need very close monitoring. Militias in a country like Iraq, can/will end up having a very divisive impact, aggravating the centrifugal forces, if not disciplined and controlled.

The IS(ISIL) over time will wear out, if the EU and other Western countries put a stop the flow of Jihadis from their countries; the Western educated global jihadis, due to their education, improve the effectiveness of IS; manpower and mobility are significant limiting factors for the IS. The IS is fighting on multiple fronts multiple adversaries, thus not sustainable, if the flow of Western Jihadis is stopped. One can predict that a lack of a proper Unity gvmt, very much seals the future of Iraq = it will fall apart.

US role, at most, needs to be very limited-->air power-RPVs/intel/some logistics/help with planning/trg/com. The big role, for the US/NATO, is to prepare and ensure long term regional allies, Gulf States, Jordan, Israel, Egypt.. can defend themselves. NATO needs to get involved, technical help required, including Germany, in supporting/preparing the regional allies, to ensure they remain stable; if stability fails, IS will be the beneficiary.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs