The United States continues to supply military equipment to Iraq as part of the effort to help Baghdad counter advances by Sunni militants, but the solution to the country’s political issues will not be firepower, but an inclusive government, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren said today.
Warren told reporters DOD continues to deliver munitions, small-arms weapons and other equipment the Iraqis can use immediately in the battle against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, such as Hellfire missiles.
“I know we’re down to having delivered all but 100 of the recent purchase of 500 [Hellfire missiles] that the Iraqis made.
“There were shipments within the last week,” the colonel continued. “We expect that purchase of a total of 500 Hellfires to be closed out within the coming two or three weeks.”
While the department hasn’t placed any restrictions on the F-16 aircraft delivery process in Iraq, Warren said, the relocation of contractors from Balad will cause some impact. Advances by ISIL militants triggered the evacuation of contractors from the air base.
“I don’t have a specific timeline for how the relocation of contractors from Balad will affect the delivery of the F-16. It certainly will,” he said. “These contractors were part of the process; they’re no longer operating in Balad.”
Warren said the Defense Department has responded as quickly as possible to assist Iraq with requested military sales.
“We are very aware of the critical need that Iraq has for advanced weapons. We are working as quickly as possible to ensure that they receive all of the foreign military sales that they have requested and that they’ve paid for.”
Warren also addressed questions of Iraq pursuing weapons sales with other nations, including Russia.
“The Iraqi purchase of Russian military equipment does not affect the Iraqi purchase of American military equipment,” he said. “We know the Iraqis have pursued several avenues over the years for the purchasing of military equipment, to include the Czech Republic, South Korea and others,” he said.