Adding to the ever-growing number of US ground troops in the “no boots on the ground” war in Iraq, Army officials announced yet another significant deployment from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, from which some 400 troops will be sent to Qayara, just south of Mosul.
The idea is that the troops will be part of the logistics effort to prop up the Iraqi military in Nineveh Province, with an eye toward them eventually attacking Mosul, though there is no timeline for when such an offensive will begin, and Pentagon officials have gone on record doubting Iraq’s military is anywhere near ready for such an attack.
Officials at Fort Campbell say the troops were part of a “Strike Ready Force” which had been pre-trained and prepared to go to Iraq “at a moment’s notice,” suggesting that the continued escalation of the US ground force in Iraq is being planned well ahead of actually announced deployments.
Last month, President Obama raised the “cap” on the number of ground troops in Iraq to 4,647. This cap has become something of a running joke, as the Pentagon has repeatedly admitted to having well more troops than that. Most recent estimates have over 6,000 US ground troops in Iraq already, before this new deployment. The Pentagon has argued that only “permanent” troops count toward the cap, and that open-ended deployments that aren’t officially labeled permanent let them send more or less unlimited troops into Iraq without “violating the cap.”