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After ‘Losing Track’ Of $1 Billion In Arms, Pentagon Requests $1.8 Billion To Arm Iraqi Fighters

The Pentagon to arm Iraqi fighters may surprise - or infuriate - protesters who drum up support to stop the hostilities. Still, the Pentagon sees it as one way to tackle the crisis in Iraq.

Jun 06, 20178129 Shares150533 Views
The Pentagon to arm Iraqi fighters? But why?
The Pentagon foresees a role for itself in Iraq and possibly eastern Syria post-Islamic State, telling Congress that stability will require arming and training fighters to the tune of $1.8 billion over three years, at least.
Achieving President Donald Trump’s goal of defeating Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) may include a catch, as the Pentagon’s 2018 budget request warns Congress of “Iraqi instability, [exacerbating] sectarian divisions, [contributing] to extremism, and [allowing] outside actors to destabilize the country,” if $1.3 billion is not allocated toward extending the Obama-era program to equip and train the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), according to Defense News.

Reinforcing The CTS

Another $500 million would go towards a similar arming and training program for Syrian fighters.
While the combined $1.8 billion represents just about one-fifth of 1 percent of the total 2018 defense budget request, the CTS program receives no funding from the Iraqi government.
The Pentagon seeks to put the money to use over a three-year period to grow and expand CTS, despite the force reportedly losing 40 percent of its troops in combat.
Defense News reported that CTS is not an official arm of the Iraqi military, rather it serves under the Iraqi prime minister.
Top view of Pentagon in Virginia, with Iraqi fighters with rifles and U.S. 100-dollar bill superimposed
Top view of Pentagon in Virginia, with Iraqi fighters with rifles and U.S. 100-dollar bill superimposed
Therefore, the Pentagon budget request describes the U.S. interest as providing:
  • “a political and physical counterweight to Iranian and Russian influence”
  • “reassure Iraqi Sunnis of their importance to the fight against ISIS, while gaining [Baghdad’s] acceptance”
RT America tweeted on May 23, 2017 about the proposed budget, which will be comprised of:
  • “38,000 Army troops”
  • “48 Black Hawk”
  • “61 Apache helicopters”
  • “$1.1 bn. to upgrading tanks”

Addressing The Challenges

The budget document predicts “post-ISIS challenges” that are all familiar problems for the U.S. military, such as:
  • “enabling the rule of law”
  • “establishing border security”
  • “securing critical infrastructure”
  • “addressing future extremist threats”
Some manifested in Iraq’s Diyala Province in 2015 after the province was liberated from IS, as leftover fighters and rival Shiite militias attacked civilians, according to Defense News.

Equipment And CTS Vision

If approved, the budget would include, for next year, $445 million worth of training and equipment for Iraqi security forces as well as $329 million for past and projected equipment losses and replacements.
Equipment includes:
  • 200 AM General-made Humvees
  • 80 Iraqi light armored vehicles
  • 25 Oshkosh-made FMTV cargo trucks
  • 10 armored bulldozers
There is also $193 million for vehicles, guns, and personal equipment, as the vision for CTS is to make it “an elite infantry force” and transition it into a counterterrorism unit after Islamic State is removed from its stronghold in Mosul, Iraq.
The Pentagon to arm Iraqi fighters will cost the U.S. government tons of money; nonetheless, it believes it will all be worth every dollar.
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