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U.S. Defense Secretary makes unannounced trip to Iraq

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Posted at 7:17 AM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-18 07:17:47-04

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has arrived for an unannounced visit to Iraq, where he will hold a series of meetings, including with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and top U.S. military commanders.

Carter will also host a question-and-answer session with troops stationed in the country. This is Carter’s third visit to Iraq.

An official traveling with Carter said the U.S. is going to bring in more resources into the country and is going to accept more risk in the coming days in Iraq.

The official said that the resources would likely include “more aggressive” equipment and technology and may include an increase in Apache attack helicopters.

The official framed the fight for Iraq as centered around efforts to recapture the northern city of Mosul from ISIS forces, Iraq’s second-largest.

Mosul fell to ISIS after the Iraqi Army abandoned their positions and fled in the summer of 2014.

Troop increases?

The comments seemed to complement those made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford, the country’s top military officer who said in March that he believes the U.S. will soon increase the number of American troops in Iraq.

“(Carter) and I both believe that there will be an increase to the U.S. forces in Iraq in the coming weeks,” he said late last month.

Dunford added that, at the time, a final decision on any troop deployments had yet to be made.

Most analysts think the additional forces will be deployed to help the Iraqi military in its upcoming campaign to liberate Mosul from ISIS control.

“Taking Mosul will require more fighters than the Iraqi security forces have and those new forces have to be trained,” thereby requiring the additional U.S. presence, Nick Heras, of the Center for a New American Security told CNN.

Busting ISIS communication

More recently, the U.S. deployed tactical aircraft capable of attacking ISIS’s ability to communicate closer to the front lines of the battle against the terrorist group.

The U.S. European Command announced a squadron of Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler aircraft has been sent to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to support operations against ISIS.

In addition to being able to intercept communications by ISIS, the Prowler can protect allied forces on the ground and strike aircraft by jamming any radar and communication devices ISIS has.