Pentagon leaders are now reviewing the military's initial assessment of Iraq's security forces and it may be some time before decisions are made about what additional assistance the U.S. should provide as the Baghdad government battles Sunni insurgents.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has read the completed assessment. A Pentagon spokesman said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received it but hadn't reviewed it yet.
Defense officials declined to detail the report. Dempsey has said the updates he's received describe a logistically challenged Iraqi force that would have a hard time going on the offensive against the Islamic State extremist group.
The Pentagon spokesman said there is a sense of urgency about the situation in Iraq but it's important to get the decision right.
“It will be a matter of some time here as we work our way through what … the teams had found before moving forward to any specific decisions about follow-on military assistance to the Iraqi security forces,” Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Monday.
There are about 90 American assessors on the ground in Iraq.
The assessment teams are providing insights about Iraqi security forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – a terror group that has taken significant territory in Syria and northern Iraq.
Overall, there are about 500 American military personnel in Iraq.
The joint operations centers in Baghdad and Irbil are up and running, and the U.S. personnel there are coordinating and communicating with Iraqi forces.
A big part of the mission of the joint operations center is to process the information learned from Iraqi staff elements and the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights the United States flies over the country.
“Now that the initial work of the assessment teams is complete, that work will be studied and reviewed by senior leaders, … and from that some recommendations will flow – recommendations for the secretary to consider,” Kirby said, adding that Hagel will take those recommendations to President Barack Obama.
Army Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, a native of El Paso and graduate of Eastwood High School, is commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq.
Pittard was commanding general of Fort Bliss starting in 2010 and 1st Armored Division in May starting in 2011. He relinquished both positions in May 2013.
He then became the deputy commander for the Third U.S. Army in Kuwait, where his duties included overseeing the American military operation in Jordan.
The Associated Press and American Forces Press Service contributed to this report.