The Pentagon on Friday asked Congress to approve a $1.62 billion package of guns, ammunition, body armor, trucks, and medical kits to boost the capabilities of the Iraqi Army, Kurdish forces, and Sunni tribes in their fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Details of weapons and other support material included in the Iraq train-and-equip package are part of the Obama administration’s $5.6 billion overseas contingency operations fund to counter the Islamic State and were sent to Congress Thursday and posted on the Defense Department’s comptroller’s website.
Of the total, $1.24 billion will go toward equipping nine brigades of the Iraqi Army, which has been reduced to 10 divisions after at least four divisions melted away when the militants swept across northern Iraq this spring, the Pentagon said. Another $354 million will go toward equipping the Kurdish Peshmerga forces that are fighting to keep Islamic State fighters from pushing into their quasi-state in northern Iraq, and the balance of $24 million will be given to Sunni tribes in Anbar province who being recruited and trained to form national guard units capable of taking on the Islamic State. Sunni tribes helped U.S. forces decimate al Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State’s predecessor, during the height of the so-called surge. American officials hope the tribes can now be persuaded to take on the Islamic State, but many Sunni leaders have been reluctant because they believe they’d be outgunned in any fight, fear Islamic State reprisals against their families, and blame the United States for failing to prevent them from being mistreated by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. […]