Obama sends new troops to Iraq: Is this preparation for a ‘new mission?’
posted at 7:21 pm on August 12, 2014 by Noah Rothman
With hundreds of American military “advisors” already on the ground in Iraq, the White House revealed on Tuesday that it is contemplating sending at least another 130U.S. military experts and special forces to that country to help Kurdish and Iraqi Security Forces in their struggle against ISIS militants.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that an “internal discussion” within the White House is underway, and no final decision has been made. Nevertheless, an anonymous source revealed that the administration is poised to increase the number of troops in Iraq in order to combat the ISIS threat.
“Since fighters from the self-styled Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, seized much of northwestern Iraq in June, the United States has sent about 700 military personnel to protect U.S. diplomats there and take stock of Iraq’s military capacity,” Reuters reported.
CNN’s Barbara Starr reported on Tuesday American military personnel may be tasked with facilitating the extraction of the encircled Yazidi minority from their current position on top of Mt. Sinjar in western Iraq. She added that this would constitute a “new mission” for American military forces, but to explicitly say so would be politically problematic for the Obama administration.
It is irrefutable, however, that Obama’s proposed “humanitarian corridor” which would allow for the extraction of the Yazidis from the ISIS-held regions of Iraq to safer quarters would necessarily require so-called boots on the ground.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Pentagon is considering a rescue mission which would utilize U.S. troops. That would likely result in American forces executing combat operations against ISIS militants.
While the proposal is still under development, U.S. officials said the military is considering staging a dangerous rescue operation that could for the first time put American troops in direct confrontation with Sunni fighters.
Any plan would have to be approved by President Barack Obama. U.S. officials said the rescue mission is one of many options the U.S. military is weighing after dropping food and water to dying refugees for the past six days.
It is nothing more than a politically satisfying fiction to assert that such a mission could be carried out via airpower alone. Even a robust multinational force would likely be unable to accomplish this feat from the air.
Updated to reflect new reports which indicate 130 rather than 100 American troops will be sent to Iraq.
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