WASHINGTON, July 14, 2014 —
Assessment teams working in Iraq have delivered their findings through the chain of command, and they have arrived at Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s office, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said here today.
“It will be a matter of some time here as we work our way through what … the teams had found before moving forward to any specific decisions about follow-on military assistance to the Iraqi security forces,” Kirby told reporters.
There is a palpable sense of urgency in the Pentagon about what is happening in Iraq, Kirby said, but it will take time to review the reports and make recommendations. “It is more important to get this issue right than it is to get it quick,” he added. Senior leaders in the Pentagon – including Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – will take the time to digest the reports before making recommendations about how to move forward, the admiral said.
The teams remain in Iraq and still are providing insights about Iraqi security forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – a terror group that has taken significant territory in Syria and northern Iraq.
The assessment reports are the initial findings, Kirby noted, and the teams will add more information as they see fit.
The teams’ mission has not changed, Kirby said. “It has not evolved into specific advisory tasks at this point,” he added.
The joint operations centers in Baghdad and Irbil are up and running, and the U.S. personnel there are coordinating and communicating with Iraqi forces. A big part of the mission of the joint operations center is to process the information learned from Iraqi staff elements and the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights the United States flies over the country.
“Now that the initial work of the assessment teams is complete, that work will be studied and reviewed by senior leaders, … and from that some recommendations will flow – recommendations for the secretary to consider,” Kirby said, adding that
Hagel will take those recommendations to President Barack Obama.
“We are in a process right now that may or may not lead to follow-on specific military advisor missions,” the admiral said, noting that the assessment teams could form the core of an advisory team should the president so decide.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)