Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the United States might eventually need to send noncombat ground troops to Iraq to help defeat Islamic State militants.
Hagel, who announced his resignation under pressure in November, told CNN on January 30 that all options must be considered in Iraq, including sending troops for noncombat roles such as gathering intelligence and locating Islamic State targets.
"I think it may require a forward deployment of some of our troops," he said. "I would say we're not there yet. Whether we get there or not, I don't know."
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last year U.S. troops might have to take a larger role on the ground in Iraq.
Such a deployment would be in addition to the 4,500 U.S. troops already committed to training and advising roles in Iraq.