If there was a sense of confusion yesterday regarding the Obama administration’s plan to combat the spread of the terror group ISIS, that confusion — which some would characterize as bordering on bewilderment — has been multiplied with the latest statement from the president.
After a briefing with top military leaders at U.S. Central Command in Florida, Obama doubled down on his pledge of no new American ground troops in Iraq. None. Period.
Essentially, Barack Obama — in advance of any actual experience on this Iraqi battlefield — is telling his top war fighters what they will and/or will not do. He is also signaling to the enemy the extent to which America is willing to engage ISIS fighters who have proven they’re willing to do whatever it takes.
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USA Today says the president forcefully repeated his “no boots on the ground” pledge, which came into serious question yesterday when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said he might recommend the insertion of ground forces.
Gen. Martin Dempsey…said in congressional testimony Tuesday: “To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president.”
In promising no new combat troops in the struggle against ISIS in Iraq, Obama has said that the great majority of the ground fighting must be handled by the Iraqi army, with air support and combat advice from the United States. That underlined another apparent disconnect between the Commander-in-Chief and his top military officer, Gen. Dempsey.
As Fox News reported following Dempsey’s congressional testimony on Tuesday:
The U.S. military’s top officer said Wednesday that almost half of Iraq’s army is incapable of working against the Islamic State militant group, while the other half needs to be rebuilt with the help of U.S. advisers and military equipment.
Obama’s former Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, has joined the chorus of military experts and lawmakers questioning whether ISIS can be defeated without the use of American combat troops on the battlefield.
“They’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own,” Gates told CBS This Morning. “So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.”
Obama’s public reiteration of his “no boots on the ground” stand is seen by some as an effort to silence dissent within his administration and to clean up the discord and confusion left in the wake of apparently disparate positions taken by the White House and the Pentagon.