Obama stressed that the advisers are there to “assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces” while stressing that “American forces will not be returning to combat” but will help Iraqis “take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well.”
Special Forces to collect intelligence
It’s believed that of that number, 100 will be a collection of Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Army Rangers that will not only advise the Iraqi security forces but collect intelligence for the Pentagon.
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While Obama has said that troops won’t “be returning to combat,” they most certainly will be in harms way and their boots WILL be on the ground.
“This is the first step. This is how you get drawn into these situations,” CNN military analyst Rick Francona.
While video of the ongoing assault shows columns of ISIS fighters headed south in convoys of pickup trucks and other vehicles, they have recently dispersed and mixed with the local population presumably to avoid targeting by potential U.S. airstrikes that Obama has not ruled out but rather kept on the table.
Francona pointed out that the U.S. special forces would be “in a great position to call in any air strikes” if Obama decided to use that option.
“The President hasn’t ruled out anything except sending U.S. combat troops into Iraq,” said outgoing press secretary Jay Carney.
Obama doesn’t need Congress
Yesterday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the President “basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take.”
Democrats from both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate including Nancy Pelosi echoed McConnell’s concern.
Obama is clearly concerned that ISIS could use Iraq as a safe haven for terrorist actions against its enemies (all of us) and Carney said yesterday that the prevention of this was the “ultimate objective.”
“Any action that he might contemplate when it comes to … the use of military force will be to deal with the immediate and medium-term threat posed” by the militants, Carney said, while pointing out that that 170 U.S. military personnel have been sent to Baghdad to secure the embassy and its personnel and another 100 were moved into the area to”provide airfield management security and logistic support, if required.”
Never one to shy from criticism of the president, House Speaker John Boehner said, “When you look it is not just Iraq,” the Ohio Republican tanning bed afficianado said. “It is Libya, it’s Egypt, it’s Syria. The spread of terrorism has increased exponentially under this President’s leadership.”
While criticism of Obama has been free-flowing the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has received quite a bit of his own and is being blamed for the sectarian divisions that exist between Sunni and Shia groups in the country.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has recently called for him to step down saying, “I think that most of us that have followed this are really convinced that the Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any reconciliation.”