U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited Camp Pendleton Tuesday to speak with Marines about the violence in Iraq and revealed that U.S. military assessment teams would soon be headed to the region.
After thanking the troops for their honor and service, Hagel discussed the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq and what comes next in efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS.
Hagel said U.S. military are “focused once again on assisting the Iraqis” as the country forms a new government.
He said he and President Barack Obama have approved sending approximately 130 new U.S. military assessment teams to northern Iraq to take a closer look at the situation and give an accurate update of where and how the U.S. can continue to help the Iraqi people.
Hagel said many Marines are part of those assessment teams headed to Erbil.
“The country of Iraq is now under threat from some of the most brutal, barbaric forces we’ve seen in the world today,” said the Secretary of Defense. “[ISIS] is a force and dimension the world has never seen before.”
For now, Hagel said the U.S. will continue to assist the Iraqi government at their request with humanitarian efforts.
Still, he reassured, as President Obama has also stated, there will be no U.S. boots on the ground in this mission.
“As the president has made very clear, we are not going back into Iraq in any of the same combat mission dimensions that we once were in. This is not a combat boots on the ground operation,” said Hagel.
During a question and answer session with Camp Pendleton Marines, Hagel reiterated this message, saying the combat mission for the U.S. is over in Iraq and the involvement there now “is at the request of the Iraqi government.”