The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces do not overextend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants.
It may also include U.S. advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the White House. The advisers, the official said, would not participate in combat. President Obama has said repeatedly that no U.S. ground forces would be deployed to Iraq.
With few exceptions, the Iraqi army has concentrated largely on defense and efforts to prevent the Islamic State from claiming ever-more territory since early June when the militant group took over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and began moving southward.
Despite some government gains, aided since early August by U.S. airstrikes, the militants control about one-third of Iraq, stretching from near Baghdad to the northwest, and across western Anbar province to the Syrian border.
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