WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US forces in Iraq are currently training 8,000 new Iraqi volunteers to fight ISIL, but they need more troops, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth told the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.
“We haven’t got as many [volunteers] from the Iraq population as we would like,” Wormuth told a CSIS strategy forum on Monday.
By June 30, 2015, 8,000 Iraqi soldiers and [Kurdish] Peshmerga forces had successfully passed through the program, while another 4,000 Iraqi soldiers and security forces personnel were already being prepared for the next training course, Wormuth explained.
Wormuth acknowledged that in the decade following the US conquest and occupation of Iraq in 2003, Washington policymakers had permitted its new army to be dominated by Shias, thereby alienating the Sunni community from which ISIL drew its support.
“We have to have local forces who can fight ISIL,” the Pentagon policy chief said. “[That is] a central part of our strategy.”
Wormuth has held various senior positions at the Pentagon in the Obama administration, culminating in almost two years as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Force Development from August, 2012 until taking up her current post in June 2014.