Dempsey: Open to using U.S. ground troops to retake Mosul

posted at 6:41 pm on November 13, 2014 by Noah Rothman

There’s good news and bad news, everyone.

The good news is that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey is confident that all of the vast Iraqi territory lost to the Islamic State can be recovered. The bad news is that he thinks it will take no fewer than 80,000 “competent” soldiers to do it.

Via Reuters:

Iraq will need about 80,000 effective military troops to retake the terrain it lost to Islamic State militants and restore its border with Syria, the top U.S. general said on Thursday.

“We’re going to need about 80,000 competent Iraqi security forces to recapture territory lost, and eventually the city of Mosul, to restore the border,” Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, told a congressional hearing.

Dempsey said the request for more U.S. forces in Iraq would create centers to help train the additional troops needed.

If that sounds like an impossible task for the Iraqi Army, which famously supplied ISIS with much of their equipment when many Iraqi Security Forces retreated from engagements with the Islamist insurgency, Dempsey seems to agree.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Dempsey conceded he is considering recommending sending American combat troops, not advisors, to accompany Iraqi forces in their efforts to dislodge ISIS soldiers from the Iraqi territory they currently control.

Retaking the critical city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest, and re-establishing the border between Iraq and Syria that Isis has erased “will be fairly complex terrain” for the Iraqi security forces that the US is once again supporting.

“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by US forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey added, however, that he does not envision a troop presence in Iraq of a size similar to the massive influx of American forces into that country during the Iraq War. “I just don’t foresee a circumstance when it would be in our interest to take this fight on ourselves with a large military contingent,” Dempsey said.

There is a lot of wiggle room between the present 2,800 U.S. combat advisors presently in Iraq and the 150,000 soldiers that occupied that country from 2003 to 2011. And Dempsey needs every inch of the wiggle room he has provided himself.

If retaking key areas like al-Anbar and Nineveh Provinces proves too difficult for the Iraqi forces, Dempsey conceded that he “will have to adjust my recommendations.”

…So, mostly bad news.


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Comments

Looks like Ton Paul was right. There will be more and more ground troops in Iraq.

MoreLiberty on November 13, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Looks like Ron Paul was right. There will be more and more ground troops in Iraq.

MoreLiberty on November 13, 2014 at 6:43 PM

And the “Dempsey is relieved of command” countdown begins in 3,2,1…

kcewa on November 13, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Let the Iranians save their fellow Shiites. They are not our fellow Shiites.

VorDaj on November 13, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Looks like Ron Paul was right. There will be more and more ground troops in Iraq.

MoreLiberty on November 13, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Because Ron Paul has so much experience in foreign policy and military strategy.

kcewa on November 13, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Open to using U.S. ground troops to retake Mosul

Retake Mosul and then do WHAT with it ?

burrata on November 13, 2014 at 6:47 PM

No boots will be issued…?

d1carter on November 13, 2014 at 6:47 PM

How about retaking the U.S. Southern border?

ShainS on November 13, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Because Ron Paul has so much experience in foreign policy and military strategy.

kcewa on November 13, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Better none at all than experience in foreign policy and military strategy that is all wrong.

VorDaj on November 13, 2014 at 6:48 PM

How about retaking the U.S. Southern border?

ShainS on November 13, 2014 at 6:48 PM

You mean the one that Pharaoh Obama is about to completely erase with his pen and phone?

VorDaj on November 13, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Oh, but the Executive Orderer in Chief says no boots on the ground.

So where sneakers.

anotherJoe on November 13, 2014 at 6:50 PM

*wear sneakers, i know, stupid

anotherJoe on November 13, 2014 at 6:51 PM

Looks like the 8 years ‘we’ already spent in Iraq accomplished nothing at all.

VorDaj on November 13, 2014 at 6:51 PM

How does Obama sell this to his base, if Republicans do not support it? All they need to do is shut up, let Obama take the dive by himself. Sending large numbers of zamerican combat troops back in now is not so good idea.

Techster64 on November 13, 2014 at 6:51 PM

Wow. There are more anti-war people at HA than I realized.

lineholder on November 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

No blood for Iranian interests.

The Wise Fox on November 13, 2014 at 6:55 PM

So instead of “boots,” they will wear bedroom slippers.

TarheelBen on November 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Wow talk about some serious Mission Creep going on here, I don’t even know where to start with this mess.

From no Boots on the ground to limited advisory roles only that morphs into combat deployments with no clearly defined objectives. It’s 1964 all over again!

Johnnyreb on November 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM

No. My son just got out of the USAF, but still has 2 years on his “contract”. He’s exactly the kind of “boots” to get sent there.

ladyingray on November 13, 2014 at 6:59 PM

The Iraqi army makes the French look tough and manly.

Magicjava on November 13, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Ton Paul?

He may have put on a few pounds lately but it’s mostly water-weight, no need to get nasty.

Bishop on November 13, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Exit question: Would Generalissimo Obama send troops back in to accomplish something he doesn’t believe in?

GarandFan on November 13, 2014 at 7:10 PM

So instead of “boots,” they will wear bedroom slippers.

TarheelBen on November 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Or barefoot. I mean like those “barefoot” running shoes that allow you to breathe and run naturally. With organic recyclable non-gendered rubber so the amrymenpeople can feel good about their carbonated footprint.

anotherJoe on November 13, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Wow. There are more anti-war people at HA than I realized.

lineholder on November 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

Wars are suppose to have an end.

VorDaj on November 13, 2014 at 7:13 PM

Take it.

Give it back.

Then go back and take it again.

Seems like old times.

Solaratov on November 13, 2014 at 7:15 PM

Looks like the 8 years ‘we’ already spent in Iraq accomplished nothing at all.

VorDaj on November 13, 2014 at 6:51 PM

Thanks to Obama letting Maliki ruin what we gained.

Bitter Clinger on November 13, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Wow. There are more anti-war people at HA than I realized.

lineholder on November 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

Yeah, and what do wanna bet they were singing a different tune back when the original war was going on.

Bitter Clinger on November 13, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Wow. There are more anti-war people at HA than I realized.

lineholder on November 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

Perhaps you are a psychic, but none of the comments posted here suggested to me the author is “anti-war”, whatever that is – are people divided into anti-war and pro-war? Which one are you?

I’m not anti-war, but I’m surely opposed to the idea of stealing a few billions from American taxpayers and having American military personnel killed to “retake Mosul”. I believe that’s the view of any person with a modicum of good sense, regardless if they are anti-war, pro-war or ambivalent-war. This would be, what?, the third retake of Mosul in a decade? We took it from Saddam, then from insurgents, not from ISIS. Is this the new normal, the federal government will put the country further in debt by spending a few billions retaking Mosul every other year? Perhaps we should just have a Mosul retaking department. What’s so important about Mosul? Is it going to be the 51th state? Does this boondogle make Americans safer? Richer? Happier?

Let the Iraqui Shias retake Mosul with their money and man power if they want to – I doubt they care so much as some Americans do, considering they abandoned the city without even trying to defend it just a few months ago.

joana on November 13, 2014 at 7:21 PM

Wow. There are more anti-war people at HA than I realized.

lineholder on November 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

This isn’t a war, it’s politics. It’s politics wherein human beings are used as chess pawns for political reasons. What we are capable of, and what our politicians allow our military to do are worlds apart.

This is what we are capable of.
But if we treated ISIS that way, and put a end to ISIS, then ISIS could not be used for political purposes anymore.

Wars should never ever be entered into lightly, they are a solution to only be applied when every other solution has failed. The purpose of a war should never be political gain.

War is killing and destroying until one side or the other either no longer has the means or the will to continue fighting. If you are going to fight a war, then tying your military’s hands behind their back before they even fire a single shot is suicidal.

Like I said, this is not a war, it is a political game being played between the Democrats and the Republicans. Who can blame who for getting more Americans killed.

oscarwilde on November 13, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Why?

Pork-Chop on November 13, 2014 at 7:38 PM

@ lineholdrr,

I’m not anti-war; I, unlike the vast majority of the Us populace has volunteered and served. I did 10 years in the Marine Corps to include 3 tours in Iraq. I have actually seen the worthless people of Iraq and believe not one American life or our treasure is worth that country. Blindly blindly being for war is simply just ignorant.

MoreLiberty on November 13, 2014 at 7:44 PM

joana on November 13, 2014 at 7:21 PM

After losing your bet with corkie, you are not supposed to be posting here, lady. You prove, yet again, that you are a person of absolutely no honor.

But we all already knew that.

bimmcorp on November 13, 2014 at 7:52 PM

So instead of “boots,” they will wear bedroom slippers.

TarheelBen on November 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Or barefoot. I mean like those “barefoot” running shoes that allow you to breathe and run naturally. With organic recyclable non-gendered rubber so the amrymenpeople can feel good about their carbonated footprint.

anotherJoe on November 13, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Moccasins would work great. The troops can sneak up on the enemy and get ’em the ‘stealth’ way…

bimmcorp on November 13, 2014 at 7:55 PM

After losing your bet with corkie, you are not supposed to be posting here, lady. You prove, yet again, that you are a person of absolutely no honor.

But we all already knew that.

bimmcorp on November 13, 2014 at 7:52 PM

You’re asking Obama Jr. to admit she’s wrong.

Bitter Clinger on November 13, 2014 at 7:56 PM

Dempsey: Open to using U.S. ground troops to retake Mosul

.
With the same RoE that is currently in place or, worse, no weapons allowed because, “training?” No fcuking way, big fella. No way.

ExpressoBold on November 13, 2014 at 7:58 PM

……………….I cannot help but think there’s a certain intrinsic value in rendering as many Jihadists to room temperature as possible…………………………………………………………..but ONLY employing those who would VOLUNTEER to do so

Katfish on November 13, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Dempsey is right, and he could probably get a better job done with 10,000 to 15,000 U.S. troops than with 80,000 Iraqis. Once ISIS is booted back into Syria, they could probably hold northern Iraq with about 20,000 Kurds, but would they ever agree to allow Kurds into Mosul?

Exit question: will Dempsey ever be able to get 10,000 ground troops past Mr. “Judgment to Lead–I ended the war in Iraq”?

Steve Z on November 13, 2014 at 8:26 PM

What’s up with Dempsey wearing the dress blues all the time? Does he always have a formal dinner to go to or something?

Speaking of going, him and a bunch of his brass hat buddies need to clear out their desks and join the Democrats in early retirement. Go! For the love of god leave us!

claudius on November 13, 2014 at 8:31 PM

Just kill jihadis. The hell with re-taking anything.

The Iraqis were failed by their own troops.

Let them get their shit together.

Dead jihadis is our goal.

Fast, ruthless, and implacable.

profitsbeard on November 13, 2014 at 9:22 PM

My issue with Bush 43’s invasion of Iraq was that it committed us to perhaps a century of managing Iraq’s affairs. To be fair, all things considered, that would have been a reasonable price to pay for the eventual outcome. But, I was absolutely convinced that the American public could never be trusted to provide that level of support.

As obama proved, I was correct. The difference now is that thanks to obama’s policies in the Middle East, the situation is much worse and we have the same choice under much worse circumstances.

A Former Advisor to The South Vietnamese Navy who has been there and done that stuff in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Linh_My on November 13, 2014 at 10:02 PM

When did we go back to Civil War uniforms?

Valiant on November 13, 2014 at 10:41 PM

When did we go back to Civil War uniforms?

Valiant on November 13, 2014 at 10:41 PM

We never left them. They just became the equivalent of a tux in the Army.

Former Squid, retired SSG USA

Linh_My on November 13, 2014 at 11:16 PM

Dempsey can consider lots of things, but Obama’s main concern will be if boots are involved.

virgo on November 14, 2014 at 12:20 AM

Looks like Ron Paul was right. There will be more and more ground troops in Iraq.

MoreLiberty on November 13, 2014 at 6:43 PM

That’s always been obvious. There was never a chance that we could win this conflict without boots on the ground. Trying to use other nations’ troops as “boots on the ground” was always a ridiculous delusion.

There Goes the Neighborhood on November 14, 2014 at 2:39 AM

Iraq should establish volunteer foreign battalions, and a charity fund. That way, all of these people can go to Iraq to fight for them and this “cause” while risking their own lives and wasting their own money.

MoreLiberty on November 14, 2014 at 4:57 AM

We’re going to need about 80,000 competent Iraqi security forces to recapture territory lost, and eventually the city of Mosul, to restore the border

Now, there is the problem. There are NO competent Iraqi security forces. NONE. The only reason they held any of that territory before was because of the US forces. If they can’t rule by fear of torture and death, then no one will fight with that type of resolve. That is how Saddam kept his troops and factions in line, while keeping these types of crazier Muslims out of his country.

That is how ISIS is rolling over them, they have no will to fight. They want the US to do it for them, and then stay to protect them while they run the country. They are the ultimate freeloaders.

The Kurds are different. They have the will and the fortitude to fight for their land and people, because they have been doing it for so long against Saddam and Turkey. If only the whole country was made up of Kurds, we wouldn’t have this problem right now. Maybe they should run the whole country.

Patriot Vet on November 14, 2014 at 6:46 AM

Iraq should establish volunteer foreign battalions, and a charity fund. That way, all of these people can go to Iraq to fight for them and this “cause” while risking their own lives and wasting their own money.

MoreLiberty on November 14, 2014 at 4:57 AM

This^^^

Patriot Vet on November 14, 2014 at 6:50 AM

Wars are suppose to have an end.

VorDaj on November 13, 2014 at 7:13 PM

Wars end either in the blood victory of or the bankruptcy of the wager. We partly won independence from England with the latter and we’d be wise to consider the parallels: tiny back-asswards nation halfway around the world versus a clumsy giant that is so badly run it’s comical and taxes going through the roof.

LawfulGood on November 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

After losing your bet with corkie, you are not supposed to be posting here, lady. You prove, yet again, that you are a person of absolutely no honor.

But we all already knew that.

bimmcorp on November 13, 2014 at 7:52 PM

You’re asking Obama Jr. to admit she’s wrong.

Bitter Clinger on November 13, 2014 at 7:56 PM

I note that neither of you cross-eyed bumpkins have managed to disprove a single thing she’s said, ‘bet’ or no bet.

LawfulGood on November 15, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Wow. There are more anti-war people at HA than I realized.

lineholder on November 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

Yeah, I object to marching backwards into a war. Sue me.

claudius on November 15, 2014 at 3:06 PM

For all the comparisons that have been made to World War I or the Cold War, what is taking place in the region today most resembles the Thirty Years’ War, three decades of conflict that ravaged much of Europe in the first half of the seventeenth century. As with Europe back then, in coming years, the Middle East is likely to be filled with mostly weak states unable to police large swaths of their territories, militias and terrorist groups acting with increasing sway, and both civil war and interstate strife. Sectarian and communal identities will be more powerful than national ones. Fueled by vast supplies of natural resources, powerful local actors will continue to meddle in neighboring countries’ internal affairs, and major outside actors will remain unable or unwilling to stabilize the region.

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/142202/richard-n-haass/the-unraveling

I am not anti-war. Having served in both the US Navy and US Army and 3 tours in Viet Nam, I think that this article gives a good picture of my views on the Middle East. Had I believed that the American public had the courage for a 30 year war style war and it’s lingering aftermath, I would have completely supported it. obama proved my doubts to be correct.

Linh_My on November 15, 2014 at 5:59 PM