Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pentagon weighs deeper Iraq

Pentagon weighs deeper Iraq: Top leaders at the Pentagon are considering a range of options to bolster the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including embedding some U.S. troops with Iraqi forces, according to two U.S. officials.

U.S. military commanders have forwarded several options to the Defense Department in the last few weeks, the officials told The Hill, as part of a mounting push within the administration to more aggressively target the terrorist group.

One of the options presented was embedding U.S. troops with Iraqi security forces; they would have the ability to call in airstrikes, a step that would bring American forces to the front line.
But even without a role in direct combat, that option would skirt close to having “boots on the ground” in Iraq — something President Obama has vowed not to do in the military campaign against ISIS.

The White House has repeatedly said U.S. troops would not have a "combat role" or be engaged in "large-scale ground combat" in Iraq.

A second option sent to Pentagon leaders would embed U.S. forces with Iraqis closer to the battlefield, at the level of a brigade or a battalion.

U.S. troops are now embedded with Iraqis at the division level, which keeps them stationed at headquarters.

Some of the options sent to Pentagon leaders would entail high risk for U.S. troops in Iraq and require more personnel, one of the officials said.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford will have an opportunity to discuss the options for the ISIS campaign when they testify Tuesday in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

One of the biggest topics of discussion at the hearing will be the way forward in Syria, where the White House recently suspended a program to train and equip rebel forces after it fell woefully short of expectations.