US Troops Will Not Stay In Iraq After ISIS Is Defeated, Prime Minister Insists

Photo via DoD

The U.S. military will not maintain combat troops in Iraq following the annihilation of ISIS, Iraq’s Prime Minister insisted on Friday in a statement — rebutting a Thursday report from the Associated Press that the two governments were hammering out a deal on a “long-term” U.S. presence in the country.

Two officials, one from the U.S. government and one from the Iraqi regime, had previously indicated to the AP that there was “a general understanding on both sides that it would be in the long-term interests of each to have that continued presence.”

But the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi slapped down that assertion, saying in a “clarification” released on Twitter Friday that while “civilians and advisers” from a number of countries will certainly aid Iraqi government efforts to stabilize the war-torn country, the government “has not expressed any jurisdiction regarding the [U.S.] military role for the stage beyond the decisive victory over terrorism.”

There are currently more than 6,000 American combat troops deployed in Iraq, but that number has been steadily increasing over the last few months — though it’s unclear by how much.

In March, the Trump administration announced that it would cease disclosing information about the scope and size of future U.S. troop deployments in both Iraq and Syria, just days after Pentagon announced it was sending an “unspecified” number of troops from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division to support Iraqi security forces.

Abadi’s chilly rejoinder follows the Pentagon’s new push to deploy between 3,000 and 5,000 more combat troops to Afghanistan to break the “stalemate” between the multinational coalition and the Taliban. A mix of special operators and conventional force will serve as an ongoing deterrent to resurgent jihadi groups emboldened by the rise of ISIS.  

“We want to maintain that partnership with Afghanistan and we want to ensure that Afghanistan reaches its potential, so that’s the objective of the strategy,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Theresa Whelan told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday.

Despite al-Abadi’s rebuke, the momentum in Afghanistan suggests that a sizeable U.S. force will put hit the ground in Iraq sooner rather than later. That’s partially due to mission creep: As Business Insider’s Paul Szoldra points out, both U.S. troop and contractor levels have been steadily rising over the last few years.

But this was always the plan, wasn’t it? Following February talks with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad, Defense Secretary James Mattis emphatically reaffirmed the ongoing strategic partnership between the countries, saying that he “imagine[d] we’ll be in this fight for a while and we’ll stand by each other.” Not too long, we hope.

Army Sgt. Jeremy Seals died on Oct. 31, 2018, following a protracted battle with stomach cancer. His widow, Cheryl Seals is mounting a lawsuit alleging that military care providers missed her husband's cancer. Task & Purpose photo illustration by Aaron Provost

The widow of a soldier whose stomach cancer was allegedly overlooked by Army doctors for four years is mounting a medical malpractice lawsuit against the military, but due to a decades-old legal rule known as the Feres Doctrine, her case will likely be dismissed before it ever goes to trial.

Read More Show Less
The first grenade core was accidentally discovered on Nov. 28, 2018, by Virginia Department of Historic Resources staff examining relics recovered from the Betsy, a British ship scuttled during the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. The grenade's iron jacket had dissolved, but its core of black powder remained potent. Within a month or so, more than two dozen were found. (Virginia Department of Historic Resources via The Virginian-Pilot)

In an uh-oh episode of historic proportions, hand grenades from the last major battle of the Revolutionary War recently and repeatedly scrambled bomb squads in Virginia's capital city.

Wait – they had hand grenades in the Revolutionary War? Indeed. Hollow iron balls, filled with black powder, outfitted with a fuse, then lit and thrown.

And more than two dozen have been sitting in cardboard boxes at the Department of Historic Resources, undetected for 30 years.

Read More Show Less
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton

At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.

Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.

They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.

What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.

Read More Show Less

A Coast Guard lieutenant arrested this week planned to "murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country," according to a court filing requesting he be detained until his trial.

Read More Show Less
(Getty Images/Spencer Grant)

(Reuters Health) - Military service members who are at risk for suicide may be less likely to attempt to harm themselves when they receive supportive text messages, a U.S. study suggests.

Read More Show Less