The 1,500 additional troops President Obama has authorized for Iraq will begin deploying ahead of congressional approval of funding for their mission, the Pentagon said Thursday.
Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command, has called for the accelerated deployment to jump-start the training and advisory mission for Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"The 1,500 will start flowing in the next few weeks," said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.
"He can start it and he is," Kirby said of Austin. "That doesn't mean we still don't need resources" to maintain the 1,500 troops in Iraq.
The money for the deployment will initially come from existing CentCom funding while the Pentagon waits for congressional approval of the $5 billion from the budget for Overseas Contingency Operations that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has requested, Kirby said.
The additional 1,500 troops would bring the U.S. troop presence in Iraq to about 3,100. The troops currently in Iraq have been working out of Joint Operations Centers in Baghdad and in the Kurdish capital of Irbil, but Austin planned to move some of the additional troops to sites in Anbar province west of Baghdad.
Last week, the Pentagon announced that 50 troops already in Iraq had moved to the al-Asad air base in Anbar to conduct a site survey for the training and advisory mission.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com.