A senior Obama administration official said Thursday that the United States was looking for ways to speed up United States bombing attacks on Islamic State militants, including a plan to train Iraqi troops to spot targets for American airstrikes.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq complained during his visit to Washington last week that it had been taking too long for the United States to carry out airstrikes on behalf of Iraqi forces. But a major constraint to shortening the time to conduct such strikes is that the White House has not authorized troops to accompany Iraqi forces on the battlefield and call in American and allied bombing attacks.

The absence of air controllers is a particular complication for urban battles in which Iraqi forces would be in proximity to their enemy, fighters on both sides would be on the move, and Islamic State units could not always be readily identified by American pilots flying overhead. […]