Pentagon: more ground troops needed to beat ISIS

The U.S. military is pushing for more ground troops to go to the Middle East to fight ISIS. The New York Times reports the Pentagon is confident more ground troops will equal victory against the terrorist group.

In the past, the Pentagon’s requests for additional troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been met with skepticism by Mr. Obama, and his aides have said he has resented what he has regarded as efforts to pressure him. But the rise of the Islamic State has alarmed the White House, and a senior administration official said Thursday that the president is willing to consider raising the stakes in both Iraq and Syria.

The United States already has about 3,700 troops in Iraq, counting a small handful of Special Operations forces on the ground in Syria. One official said that he did not anticipate that number increasing to more than 4,500 over time, and even that increase, the official said, could come incrementally, much as the deployment of the 3,700 American troops occurred over the period of a year and a half. During that time, the White House and the Pentagon have taken pains to avoid describing the deployments as combat troops, instead calling them special operators, trainers and advisers.

The fact the Obama administration won’t be honest and call the troops in Iraq and Syria “combat forces,” is just laughable and shows how political President Barack Obama is. All the administration is trying to do is keep up his 2008 campaign promise of “ending” the Iraq War. That war may have “ended,” but the administration is so worried about the President’s poll numbers, it won’t call a spade a spade and combat troops combat troops. It’s beyond frustrating, and the fact the media is allowing Obama to get away with it is even more annoying. The Administration is trying to avoid a “going at it alone” appearance, even if it appears that’s exactly what they’re doing. Here’s how Defense Secretary Ash Carton is portraying it (via NYT).

“I have personally reached out to the ministers of defense in over 40 countries around the world to ask them to contribute to enhancing the fight against ISIL — more special operations forces, more strike and reconnaissance aircraft, weapons and munitions, training assistance, as well as combat support and combat service support,” Mr. Carter said in Paris last week. “I expect the number of trainers to increase, and also the variety of the training they’re giving,” he said in a briefing with reporters earlier in the trip.

At the end of last year, Mr. Carter sent letters to many of his counterparts, laying out for them how they could do more. “We deeply appreciate Italy’s commitment to this fight; however, much work is yet to be done,” Mr. Carter said in one letter, dated Dec. 1, to the Italian defense minister, Roberta Pinotti. The letter was obtained by WikiLao, a Rome-based security website.

Carter also appears to be trying to get more Arab countries into the fight, and may do some more pressing in a meeting planned for next month. One possible reason why the Pentagon wants more troops in the Middle East, is the fact the Iraqis (shockingly) may not be 100% able to make gains on ISIS alone. Al-Arabiya reports the U.S.-led coalition almost had to start from scratch when it came to putting the Iraq Army together.

Hoping to overcome years of corruption and sectarianism that promoted unqualified officers and wore down the army’s ranks, the coalition has trained thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police.

“We start almost from scratch with the basic individual skills: how to move, how to protect, how to shoot,” said Spanish Army Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Erice, a senior trainer at Besmaya. “The period of time is short. You can’t try to reach big objectives.”

Washington last week said coalition countries needed to step up their contributions, including police and military trainers.

But with its ranks worn down by fighting and the demands of a fierce existential war showing no signs of relenting, there are concerns that Iraq’s army cannot fit in as much training as it needs.

So the Pentagon appears to be sitting there and saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” But the question is still: is this the U.S.’s fight? I’ve written before how I don’t believe so, and that opinion hasn’t changed. There’s no need for the United States military to be involved in the fight against ISIS, if France and Russia are willing to fight it. In fact, more U.S. involvement may end up destabilizing things even further, especially because the Pentagon is now considering going into Libya to clean up its mess from 2011 (wouldn’t THAT be an interesting thing for the 2016 race, since that was Hillary Clinton’s war). If ISIS keeps expanding into countries the U.S. “liberated,” at what point does America stop repeating its interventionist strategy over and over again, and look at other possible ways? If the U.S. really wants Arab countries to start fighting ISIS, then they should tell them it’s their fight and America won’t be Saudi Arabia or Qatar or UAE’s military force anymore. That might cause the countries to wake up and decide to start fighting for themselves against a terrorist group that needs to be wiped off the face of the planet (just not by the U.S.). The idea of getting into another land war in Asia, just doesn’t seem like a good idea. The U.S. hasn’t been attacked by ISIS itself, only by terrorists “inspired” by them. As easy as it is to suggest carpet bombing ISIS out of existence, as Senator Ted Cruz has proclaimed, the harder (and more sensible) route is letting the Middle East defend for itself. The U.S. can then use the strategy of allowing free trade between American and foreign businesses to inspire more freedom and liberty and reduce the terrorist numbers even further. It’s not going to happen overnight, but a quick fix is just a band-aid and liable to cause more problems down the road.