US to send up to 450 more troops to train Iraqis in Anbar province

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has authorized up to 450 more “U.S. Military trainers” to Iraq, the White House said in a statement out Wednesday. A senior administration official told CNN on Tuesday that the administration was considering sending up to 500 additional U.S. troops to the region.

As the White House announced it would send up to 450 troops to help advise Iraqi soldiers, some House Democrats saw similarities to Vietnam.

“This is exactly how Vietnam started,” Rep. Charlie Rangel told reporters Wednesday morning.

“And if you don’t think you’re putting them in harm’s way, you’re not living in the real world,” the New York Democrat said.

The Obama administration announced Wednesday plans to send around 450 more U.S. forces to Iraq to train the country’s troops — and potentially Sunni tribes as well, the White House confirmed Wednesday.

Obama’s administration is planning to train Sunni tribes’ fighters as part of its move to send additional U.S. forces to Iraq. The United States is also sending weapons to Sunni and Shia tribes, as well as the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who are operating under Iraqi command, in order to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The hope, an Obama administration official said, is that a new “Sunni uprising” similar to one that took place in 2013 will occur — but this time, aimed at Islamic State fighters.

“This is designed to focus on training the Sunnis,” the official said.

The additional U.S. military personnel will train and advise Iraqi and tribal troops at the Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province.

Sunni fighters will continue with the standard practice of undergoing a security review by the Iraq’s before they are permitted to join, to ensure they do not have loyalties to ISIS, the official said.

Rangel, though, said it’s “not only unconstitutional, but it’s immoral” to send more U.S. forces to join the 3,050 already in Iraq without Congress declaring war.

Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano of New York also compared Obama’s latest plan to Vietnam, saying that he remembers “advisers” being sent there, too.

“I remember when I said ‘we need to get out of Iraq,’ people told me it was going to be a mess,” he said. “It’s going to be a mess no matter what.”

But Obama’s plan won some praise from Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Iraq War veteran, though he worried Wednesday that the President isn’t sending enough additional troops to the region to combat ISIS.

“This may be a good plan. I think it’s a positive development. But at the end of the day, I’m afraid it’s still going to take much more of an American involvement than (Obama) likes to admit,” Kinzinger said.

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