Iraq latest from FNC’s Justin Fishel: 864 boots on ground


From FNC’s Justin Fishel:

As we’ve reported the 129 additional US military advisors are on the ground in Iraq.  More than 80 of them are Marines.  This brings the total US troops in Iraq to 864.  (If you count the additional Baghdad troops who have been there all along it’s more like 964 total).

Again, these new advisors are tasked with an urgent mission to figure out the best evacuation method to get the estimated thousands to 10s of thousands of Yazidis off the Sinjar mountain range.

These new troops flew in on Marine V-22 Ospreys, which is why you are seeing reports that these aircraft are over Irbil.  At least 4 of these aircraft will stay in Irbil and none of them have been used (yet) for any refugee evacuations.

EDIT: As to whether the Obama administration has broken its promise of no combat boots on the ground?  Well, every soldier is a combat soldier.  And as Warren pointed out in the gaggle ALL THESE TROOPS ARE ARMED.  But their mission in this case in not a combat mission.  Right now these boots on the ground are either in an advisory role (looking for targets) or assisting with the humanitarian mission.  Pentagon Spokesman Col. Steve Warren says there have been no reports of firefights involving U.S. troops, but as Ben Rhodes just said any us military personnel has ability to protect themselves.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said today that the White House did NOT direct the Pentagon not to name this operation.  It’s worth pointing out that this operation still has no name.  When pressed Warren said there have been plenty of operations in the past with no name.  I asked him to name one.  He could not.