The White House recently announced that Obama has approved a plan to send 450 new troops into Iraq to fight ISIS. These “troops” aren’t ground troops, but instead are going in an adviser role to assist the Iraqi military.
Now, everyone who believes that please, go stand on your head.
It’s been four years since the US “officially” pulled their ground troops out of Iraq, yet CNN reports that, “There are currently 3,050 U.S. forces in Iraq – with 2,250 of them devoted to supporting Iraqi security forces, 800 protecting US personnel and facilities, 450 training Iraqi troops and 200 in advising and assisting roles.”
Does it sound like war has ended in Iraq for the US military? Does it sound like the taxpayer is all of the sudden not going to have their money stolen to benefit the military-industrial complex? Does it sound like, in such a war torn country (thanks in no small part to the US), that these new 450 soldiers will really have much of a choice in whether they’re combat troops or not?
I am also unsure how it could even be tracked whether these troops stay in their “adviser” role. Maybe some decide to go off and shoot some folks anyway. How would we know? Or maybe there will be some who are de facto turned into ground troops because of the unpredictability of war torn countries. There are many questions about unaccountability that need to be answered.
To top it off, the National Journal points out that this announcement comes only two days after Obama admitted that he has no “complete strategy” for training Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS. So why are more troops being sent in?
Obama’s reasoning in the past for not sending in more explicit ground troops is that he does not want to do what the Iraqis need to do for themselves. If that’s the case, then why send advisers?
There’s also a basic question of military strength and insanity. The networked resistance of ISIS, as terrifying and awful as it is, has shown, time and time again, capable to beat the Iraqi military and outwit the US assistance. I don’t claim to have the answer for what would work best militarily, but it seems foolhardy to keep trying the same thing over and over again. Specifically, the militaries are trying to test their centralized might against networked cell-based terrorist organization. Do they really expect history to be on their side at this point?
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is much more qualified than I, has also gone on record saying that there is “no clear U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria.” Which, again, begs the question, what does Obama think he’s accomplishing by sending even more people to Iraq.
Even with all of this though there’s some amount of credit one must give to Obama, however begrudgingly. Consider that the troop count back in 2007 was over 170,000 and is now reduced to 3,000 which is something in my opinion worth celebrating.
But there’s also a danger in acting like those 3,000 plus troops and the debate surrounding them is only what they should be doing there and not why they are there to begin with. That’s a question that Obama and company as leaders of state, probably won’t be asking themselves anytime soon.
This article is reprinted with permission from Center for a Stateless Society.