The joint operations center opened by U.S. forces in Baghdad to help the Iraqi government combat Sunni insurgents is fully operational and assessments of Iraqi units have begun, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren said today.
Warren provided Pentagon reporters with an update on the 180 personnel who arrived in Baghdad to establish the operations center.
“The six teams of advisers are on the ground beginning their assessment of Iraqi units in and around Baghdad,” Warren said.
President Barack Obama ordered the teams to Iraq earlier this month following gains made by Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant who have overrun towns and cities across Iraq’s northern and western provinces as they move closer to Baghdad.
The JOC team provides synthesis of information provided from the six assessment teams and conducts liaison coordination, the colonel explained.
“These are very well-trained personnel that are used to operating in these types of environments,” Warren said of the six assessment teams. “They are very skilled at protecting themselves.”
Additionally, the colonel said, the JOC is sharing information with the Iraqis as assessments are made.
“We’ve long had an information-sharing arrangement with the Iraqis,” Warren said. “That arrangement continues.”
There is a tentative plan for a second operations center to be positioned in the north, he added. But that, he said, hasn’t happened yet.
“Right now, the JOC is collecting the information being provided by the six assessment teams [and] collating it, so we’re still in the assessment phase now,” Warren said.
“To be clear, we’re providing the Iraqis information that will be useful to them in their fight against ISIL,” he added.