The US Secretary of Defense called out Baghdad Wednesday to send more recruits to American-run training camps, as Iraq struggles to battle the Islamic State group with a weakened military.
Plans to train some 24,000 Iraqi security forces by the fall are falling short, as only enough trainees for 7,000 troops and 2,000 "anti-terrorist forces" have enrolled for training, Defense chief Ashton Carter said while speaking before the House Armed Services Committee.
"As I've told Iraqi leaders, while the United States is open to supporting Iraq more than we already are, we must see a greater commitment from all parts of the Iraqi government," Carter said.
Iraq's military has been weakened and suffered from poor morale ever since multiple divisions collapsed in the face of an offensive by the Islamic State radical group last year.
Shiite militias and Kurdish forces have been called on to stand in for the Iraqi military during offensives attempting to reclaim territory from IS.
Carter and General Martin Dempsey, the US military's top officer, told the House committee that they have not ruled out increasing US troop support for Iraq.
But they said such a boost requires the Iraqi military brings a more substantial force to battle IS, which holds large swaths of the north and west of the country.
Introducing more American troops is a subject the US will "need to revisit as those [Iraqi] forces are actually produced," Carter said.
US forces could bolster offensives, such as a much discussed Mosul campaign, but Dempsey stressed that such support should not be a crutch for the Iraqi government.
"The introduction of those resources should not be done on a habitual basis because we want them to understand this is their fight," Dempsey said.
"I would not recommend that we put US forces in harm's way simply to stiffen the spine of local forces," he said.
"If their spine is not stiffened by the threat of ISIL on their way of life, nothing we do is going to stiffen their spine," Dempsey using another acronym for IS.
President Barack Obama decided to send 450 additional troops to Iraq, bringing the total US force in the country to about 3,550.
Those forces, including 50 military advisers, are confined to consulting and training missions.
They will be based at the Taqaddum Air Base, to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Ramadi in the Sunni province of Al-Anbar.