American ground troops may have to help Iraqi forces if they move to recapture critical areas, including Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from the Sunni extremists, Dempsey told a congressional hearing Thursday.
“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.
Dempsey is chairman of the
Aircraft from the United States and partner nations have been carrying out air strikes against militant strongholds and positions in Iraq since Aug. 8 and in Syria since Sept. 23.
Dempsey appeared at a four hour hearing along with Defense Secretary
Hagel said more than $3.4 billion would support U.S. military operations, while $1.6 billion would help pay for training and equipping Iraqi forces. The remaining money would go to the
Hagel said that Iraq's military, which was routed by the militants earlier this year, won't be an effective fighting force unless it has more support from the new central government in Baghdad.
The United States will withhold some money until the Iraqi government and coalition partners provide at least $600 million of their own, he said.
“The Iraqi government must invest in its own security and its own future,” Hagel said. “We cannot ensure a stable Iraq. The Iraqi people are going to have to do that themselves.”
The United States has shipped more than $685 million in equipment and supplies to Iraq in the current campaign, he said. The lethal equipment includes grenades, small arms, tank ammunition and air-to-ground Hellfire missiles.
Defense hawks on the committee pressed the pair for stronger action.
The committee chair, Rep.
"Limiting our advisors to headquarters buildings will not help newly trained Iraqi and Syrian opposition forces hold terrain, much less defeat ISIL in the field," he said, referring to the Islamic State.
Hagel said the coalition's air campaign "will accelerate in tandem" as Iraqi forces get stronger on the ground.