ISTANBUL — About 20,000 US troops may be deployed to Iraq after the defeat of Islamic State (IS) militants in Mosul, said former Pentagon top policy official.
Post-Mosul US military presence will have the aim of stabilizing the country, said Eric Edelman, who served during the administration of George W. Bush.
Anywhere between 4,000 to 8,000 soldiers may be “probably sufficient” to help Iraqi security forces to maintain control of the country, Edelman told the Washington Times.
Due to the current cap placed under the Obama administration which limits the number of US troops in Iraq at 5,200, the future forces deployed for maintaining security would be categorized as advisers, not combat troops. Advisers and those on a temporary mission lasting less than 180 days are not counted against the cap. Currently there are about 5,200 US troops on a permanent mission in Iraq. The total number of US troops, including those on a temporary mission and those listed as advisers, is much higher.
Although the estimates may be much higher for future deployments, exactly how many troops may be deployed may not be known as with the new administration, as of March the Pentagon has not been disclosing the exact number of troops in Iraq or Syria.
“In order to maintain tactical surprise, ensure operational security and force protection, the coalition will not routinely announce or confirm information about the capabilities, force numbers, locations, or movement of forces in or out of Iraq and Syria,” Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Times in March.
Later in April US President Donald Trump authorized the Pentagon to set troop levels in both Iraq and Syria.