The total includes roughly 600 at Al Asad, 1,600 at Camp Taji, another 1,300 or so at Bismayah and 100 Peshmerga in Irbil, “which just started today,” Kirby said during a briefing.
Various levels of U.S. troops are assisting at each of those sites, and additional coalition partners are expected to help with training at the sites, he said.
“The training is up and running now, and we hope to flesh this out with additional trainers and trainees as time goes on,” Kirby said.
The training goal is to produce 12 brigades -- nine Iraqi and three Kurdish, he said.
The training is “a six-week long evolution. So they have three weeks on, with a one-week break, and then three more weeks of training,” he added.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took issue Thursday with the Iraqi Prime Minister's assertion that the U.S. has been too slow to provide weapons and training for his country, saying Haider al-Abadi's remarks are not helpful or correct.
On Wednesday Al-Abadi praised the coalition's air campaign but appealed for more aid, telling The Associated Press (AP) in an interview that, “we are in this almost on our own.”
In a sharp rebuke, Hagel told reporters, “I do disagree with the prime minister's comments. I would say even further, I don't think they're helpful. We have a coalition of over 60 countries that have come together to help Iraq. And I think the prime minister might want to be a little more mindful of that.”
Speaking at what is likely to be his final Pentagon news conference, Hagel fired off a list of weapons and equipment the U.S. has provided to Iraq, including at least 1,500 Hellfire missiles, 250 mine-resistant vehicles and thousands of small arms weapons and ammunition. He added that three of the four planned training camps are up and running in Iraq and the fourth will be operating soon.
Hagel, who met with al-Abadi when he was in Iraq last month, said the U.S. is doing everything it can to help the country, adding that, “the flow of ammunition and materiel and the requests continue at an accelerated rate.” Hagel is stepping down next month as Pentagon Chief.
There are 2,378 U.S. forces in Iraq, conducting training, advising and assisting Iraqi forces at the brigade and headquarters levels, and doing security. (File Photo)