In August 2013, after reports of Bashar al-Assad’s violation of Obama’s “red line” with chemical weapons used against his own people, Obama elected to order targeted air strikes while repeatedly promising that no “boots on the ground” would be involved.
“What we’re not talking about is an open-ended intervention,” Obama said Sept. 7, 2013, in a weekly video address. “This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan. There would be no American boots on the ground. Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope, designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so.”
A Russian-brokered agreement, purportedly to get Assad’s weapons out of Syria, averted any use of force in the end.
In 2014, as the Islamic State’s rampage across Iraq and Syria began in earnest, Obama said that boots on the ground would not be considered as the administration considered options to fight the terrorist threat.