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 covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs