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Army Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard to lead U.S. operations in Iraq

Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard shakes hands in 2011 with Gen. James D. Thurman, commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command. Pittard has been selected to lead the United States’ new military mission in Iraq. (Photo by Daniela Vestal/ Defense Department)

The Pentagon has selected a two-star Army general who oversaw U.S. teams in Iraq in 2006 and 2007 to lead its new military mission there.

Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, the deputy commanding general for operations for 3rd Army and U.S. Army Central, will oversee operations in Iraq to assess the country’s floundering security forces. He’ll lead as many as 300 U.S. troops tasked with helping the Iraqis slow the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the radical group that has taken over broad swaths of the country in recent weeks.

Pittard, an armor officer, previously commanded the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Tex. He has deployed to Iraq several times in the past, including as a one-star general while leading the Iraqi Assistance Group, which oversaw the U.S. military’s teams working with Iraqi troops. He is a recipient of the Bronze Star with “V.”

As of Thursday, there were about 90 U.S. advisers on the ground, Pentagon officials said. An additional 90 personnel have set up a joint operations center in Baghdad. The majority of the U.S. troops are said to be U.S. Special Forces, elite Green Berets.

Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.

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