Obama: US lacks ‘complete strategy’ for training Iraqis to fight ISIS

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ELMAU, Germany — The United States does not yet have a “complete strategy” for training Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State militants, President Barack Obama said Monday amid signs of weakness in Iraq’s military.

Obama said the Pentagon was reviewing plans to ramp up training and assistance to the Iraqi forces, but he also said there must be full commitment by the Iraqis themselves.

“We want to get more Iraqi security forces trained, fresh, well-equipped, and focused,” Obama said in a news conference at the close of a two-day Group of Seven summit.

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Obama snubs Iraqi Prime Minister

The president said that Iraqi troops who have been trained by the U.S. and are properly equipped are more likely to perform well, but that those who have not received good training often suffer from poor morale and other issues that affect them on the battlefield. U.S. officials cited a lack of American training as a driving factor last month when the Iraqi military suffered stunning defeats in Ramadi.

Obama spoke shortly after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who was among the non-G-7 leaders invited to attend the summit in the Bavarian Alps. The president has been complimentary of Abadi, saying the prime minister recognizes the need to supplement U.S. security assistance with political changes that alleviate sectarian tensions in Iraq.

The president also weighed in for the first time on last week’s massive hack into the computerized personnel files of more than 4 million current and former U.S. government employees. He said that “very old systems” used by the U.S. government have contributed to leaving agencies vulnerable to possible cyberattacks.

“Both state and non-state actors are sending everything they’ve got at trying to breach these systems,” Obama said as he wrapped up two days of talks with world leaders in Germany.

The president did not comment on who was behind the attack, though U.S. officials have said it appears to have originated in China.

Security issues were at the forefront of Obama’s meetings with his G-7 counterparts. Leaders vowed to keep current sanctions against Russia in place until a peace agreement between Ukraine and pro-Moscow rebels is fully implemented. They also pledged to pile on additional sanctions if Russia escalates aggression.

NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press

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