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President Obama: U.S. Will Send Military Advisers, Not Forces, to Iraq

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President Barack Obama is sending up to 300 military advisers to help Iraqi forces stem violent sectarian fighting.

The president announced the deployment from the White House Thursday after meeting with his national security team.
Obama said U.S. forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq but will help train Iraqis.
He also says the U.S. is increasing its intelligence efforts in Iraq and is prepared to create joint operations centers to share with Iraqis.
Obama says it's going to be hard for the current Iraqi government to resolve the country's crisis unless the government is more inclusive.
Obama stopped short of calling for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to resign. He says it's not the United States' job to choose Iraq's leaders. But he says whoever is prime minister must make sure all sectarian groups feel they can advance their interest through the political process.

Obama says Iran can play a constructive role in Iraq if it sends a message that Iraq's government must be inclusive and respect the interests of Sunnis and Kurds. He says that's the same message the United States is sending. But Obama says if Iran comes into the conflict solely as an armed force backing the Shiite-led government, its involvement would probably worsen the situation.

Obama says Iran's leaders have a decision to make about what role to play there. He says Tehran should consider whether its view of the region is solely through sectarian frames. He says if that's the case, Iran could find itself fighting in lots of places in the world.  (AP)
Statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Iraq

"I support President Obama's decision to deploy U.S. military personnel to advise the Iraqi security forces. These special operators will assess the situation on the ground, help evaluate gaps in Iraqi security forces, and increase their capacity to counter the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. However, as the president has repeatedly made clear, Iraq's problems cannot be resolved through American action alone, or through military force alone. The only viable, long-term solution is a political one that brings together the Iraqi people and addresses the legitimate interests and concerns of all of Iraq's communities. Iraq's government must summon the courage to unite and lead all of its people.
"The Department of Defense will continue to plan and prepare further military options should they become necessary, and we will remain ready to protect our diplomats, our citizens, and our interests in Iraq."

Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement today after President Obama’s announcement that the United States will deploy a limited number of  military advisers to Iraq for a non-combat training mission:

“What is going on in Iraq right now is an Iraqi civil war and is ultimately something Iraqis must resolve for themselves. But to help Iraqis contain the current violence and protect our national security interests, I support President Obama’s decision to deploy a very limited number of advisers to Iraq for a non-combat training mission. This decision gives America the flexibility to take precise action against threats to our national security and keeps Iraqi authorities accountable for maintaining the security of their own country.

“I want to be clear that I believe any U.S. role in Iraq must remain sharply limited in scope. We should not be spending another trillion dollars there when we could be creating jobs rebuilding our roads, bridges and schools here at home. Moving forward, it is incumbent upon Iraq’s leaders – Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd – to step up and find a responsible, inclusive, and peaceful way to end the bloodshed and regain the trust of their people.”

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