The U.S. recently completed a $17.9 million deal for the delivery of 10,000 new M-16 rifles, 250 Mine Resistant-Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and other military equipment to the Iraq as its army continues its buildup in the fight against ISIS, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
The M-16s came with 10,000 M-68 Close Combat Optical (CCO) "red dot" sights and 100,000 magazines, and the MRAPs included 200 Harris radios for mounting in the vehicles, the Pentagon said.
Pentagon officials cited the deal under the Foreign Military Sales program, which is subject to State Department approval, as an example of the Defense Department's work to speed up delivery of equipment to Iraqi forces being trained and advised by U.S. troops.
The estimated time of delivery of the equipment was about 22 days from the time of the signing of the letter of authorization, as opposed to the usual 80 days or more it takes for delivery, Pentagon officials said.
In his Senate confirmation hearings, new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that cutting red tape to speed the delivery of equipment to the field was one of his top priorities.
Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, also noted that the U.S. last year delivered a total of 1,572 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles to the Iraqis, and on Feb. 15 signed a letter for the delivery of 232 additional Hellfire missiles.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), who abandoned much of their equipment in fleeing Mosul and wide areas of western and northern Iraq last year, have been regrouping with the aid of U.S. trainers and advisers.
On Tuesday, the ISF reportedly was poised to retake the western town of al-Baghdadi from fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Al-Baghadi is near the sprawling al-Asad airbase, where 300 Marines have been training Iraqis.
At a Pentagon briefing, Warren confirmed that "the fight for al-Baghdadi continues."
"We're not prepared to say it has been cleared," he said.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at email@example.com