Back to Iraq? Dempsey floats idea of sending trainers as Syria's war spills over
June 26th, 2013
08:04 PM ET

Back to Iraq? Dempsey floats idea of sending trainers as Syria's war spills over

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

In a move that could send small numbers of U.S. military trainers back to Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has asked his top Middle East commander to look at ways the United States could boost military sales, assistance and training in that country as well as in Lebanon and Jordan as Syria's civil war continues to affect its neighbors.

Any deployment of U.S. forces would have to have those countries' approval, and so far there is no indication that Iraq or Lebanon would agree to accept U.S. troops.

Dempsey has asked Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of U.S. Central Command, to look at options for small, limited deployments in recent weeks, according to Col. Edward Thomas, a Dempsey spokesman. "It's in the realm of the possible," that a decision could be made to offer to send training teams back into Iraq, which would be the first significant deployment since the United States withdrew from that country in 2011.

Dempsey first hinted of the plan during a Wednesday Pentagon news conference when he was asked about the spillover from Syria's civil war.

"We've made a recommendation that as we look at the challenges faced by the Lebanese armed forces, the Iraqi security forces with a re-emerging al Qaeda in Iraq, and the Jordanians, that we would work with them to help them build additional capability," he said. Al Qaeda fighters, including those of the al-Nusra front, have been crossing into Syria from Iraq. There is also concern that the recent rise in al Qaeda attacks inside Iraq is adding to regional instability.

The chairman also strongly emphasized that his recommended involvement for the United States would be very limited.

"I'm talking about teams of trainers, and I'm talking about accelerating foreign military sales for equipment for them. This is about building their capability, not ours."

Military training teams generally consist of no more than a few dozen troops who work with host country military units on specific skills such as border security or counterterrorism. The United States could also send the same type of limited military gear it has sold to countries such as Lebanon in the past, including small arms, night-vision equipment and some armored vehicles, military officials say.

The proposal comes to light as fighting has spilled into Lebanon and as the United States has grown more concerned about stability there, according to a senior U.S. military official. Eastern Lebanon has become a staging ground for Hezbollah forces moving in and out of Syria.

The United States now has about 700 troops in Jordan, conducting training and staffing a Patriot missile battery and a detachment of F-16 fighters to defend Jordan if fighting spreads.

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Matt

    It was not broken when we handed it over to them, you break it you own it. Never going back to Lebanon bad taste. Given time Murder inc will slit it's own throat.

    July 8, 2013 at 6:11 am | Reply
  2. Grin Olsson

    As an American, I am wondering just who in tarnation decided that our military has the right to start arming nations outside of the United States? I don't like it and it should be stopped.

    June 30, 2013 at 2:47 am | Reply
  3. chrissy

    Back to Iraq? Nothing that this killer Obama surprises me anymore! I bet that this is happening now because the Neocons are slowly losing control of Iraq due to continuing religious violence there.

    June 27, 2013 at 8:36 am | Reply
  4. mojacar

    which defense contractors board will this warmonger sit on when he leaves the military ?

    June 27, 2013 at 6:18 am | Reply
  5. USMC1371

    He needs to be removed from his post for even thinking about it.

    June 27, 2013 at 3:11 am | Reply
  6. Beefburger

    The Haqqani Network in Syria is the same organization killing our kids in Afghanistan. Watch "Rambo 3" and see how much we have our perceptions pulled back and forth. The "good guy" Mujhadeen is now "bad guy" Al Queda.

    June 27, 2013 at 2:49 am | Reply
  7. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    June 27, 2013 at 1:52 am | Reply
    • jt

      Hey robo-blogger, your accusations are as baseless and misguided as your spelling and lack of correct English Grammar. For a pseudonym such as "John Smith" (I would rather you be named "Richard Cranium" due to your statements being so dick-headed) but that is beside the point. Tell you what let me help your message: Saddam Hussein or actually in the correct transliteration "Husayn Al Tikriti" and also the killing of thousands of Iranian people can be currently attributed to the current brutal war-mongering regime (ayatollah Khomeini) and his brutal thugs the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (which I might add is now fully embroiled along with their lackeys Lebanon's Iranian Backed Hezbollah supporting the Syrian Regime in its current Civil War. So should I go on? or maybe mention how Iran backed the terrorists who killed Lebanon's Prime Minister in that so innocent car bomb? Or maybe farther back still when they instigated not one but two wars in Lebanon alone? So exactly now who are the war mongerers? Oh but I'm sorry truth as they say is the first casualty in war. Have an answer? I think not.

      June 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  8. manhattanron

    Noooooooooooooooo! ! ! ! Stay out of this mess. Ooops – to late. We have chosen to fight on the Sunni side against the Shi'iet side. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

    June 27, 2013 at 12:55 am | Reply
  9. helenecha

    Fighting against terrorism needs confidence and stemming the spreads of terrorism needs prestige. If only the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq didn't mean that the U.S. has lost them all.

    June 27, 2013 at 12:35 am | Reply
  10. Rick

    When you help the rebels you help the terrorists. when you fund the rebels you fund the terrorists. when you arm the rebels you arm the terrorists.

    June 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Reply

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