A top commander among US embedded forces in Iraq, Col. Brett Sylvia, talked up considerable expansion of the US embedding into Iraqi froces, saying they are trying to deepen the level of integration with the Iraqi military to cover forces that previously didn’t have any US troops embedded with them.
The exact numbers involved aren’t clear, but the US has some 6,000 ground troops in Iraq at any given time. Col. Sylvia indicated that it would be less of a sense of having an embedded soldier in Iraqi groups and more having entire “special operations teams” embedded into the Iraqi military.
This likely reflects the lack of progress made in the past week in Mosul, where heavy fighting has seen soaring casualties among Iraqi special forces, but no territory changing hands. Previous US officials sought to downplay that as part of a “refit,” but it’s clear changes are being made.
Sylvia described this as a “natural progression” of the US mission in Iraq, which other officials have indicated has become virtually permanent, with suggestions that the US is going to keep troops in Iraq long after the ISIS war to ensure no new ISISes crop up.