There’s been a further clarification.
The White House acknowledged Wednesday that President Obama would consider putting U.S. troops in “forward-deployed positions” to advise Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State – even while insisting U.S. troops would not be sent back into a “combat role” in Iraq.
Obama and his top advisers appeared to be threading a needle as they carefully clarified how exactly U.S. troops might be used, a day after Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey opened the door to approving “U.S. military ground forces.”
The White House continued to insist Wednesday that a “combat role” has in fact been ruled out, and that U.S. troops will not be engaging the Islamic State on the ground.
Speaking at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, after visiting U.S. Central Command, Obama told troops: “I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”
He vowed that the U.S. forces currently deployed to Iraq to advise Iraqi forces “will not have a combat mission.” Instead, he said, they will continue to support Iraqi forces on the ground, through a combination of U.S. air power, training assistance and other means.
But the White House is no longer ruling out deploying ground troops in some capacity short of a “combat” mission. Shortly after Obama spoke, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest clarified that Dempsey was talking about the possible need to put U.S. troops already in Iraq into “forward-deployed positions with Iraqi troops.”
This is a war of words between the President and the Pentagon. I do think the generals are frustrated because the only way they can accomplish their mission is to apply ground forces as needed. We don’t have any other good, reliable option. And I agree it is silly to be broadcasting to the enemy, “we won’t use ground troops.” It does signal lack of commitment if nothing else. Obama is doing this for political reasons - he doesn’t want to put troops back into Iraq. He should be doing what’s needed to eliminate ISIS who are a serious, dangerous and growing threat to the world.