Deputy Secretary of Defense: 'Right Now... No Boots on the Ground' in Iraq
4:01 PM, Aug 21, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Ever since President Obama pulled forces out of Iraq, he has been unequivocal in his statements about "boots on the ground" in that country. As recently as August 7, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the "President has also made clear that American military action in Iraq would not include combat boots on the ground. That is a principle that the President laid out at the beginning and that continues to be true today."
However, in remarks Wednesday to U.S. troops in Guam, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work twice qualified the president's words with "right now," saying "Do I think we're going to have boots on the ground[?] The president's been very clear, right now, no," and a short time later, "So right now, the president's been very clear, no boots on the ground."
Work was responding to a question about ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and Iraq from a soldier in the audience at an event at Apra Harbor, Guam. The following are excerpts from Work's reply [emphasis added]:
When asked, based on Work's comments, under what conditions the U.S. might put boots on the ground in Iraq, William Speaks of the defense department's Public Affairs office responded via email, "We would not speculate on something like that."
President Obama did not specifically address future actions by the U.S. military in Iraq in his remarks Wednesday regarding the murder of photojournalist James Foley by ISIL, saying only that the United States "will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless."
Following the president's remarks, the Wire reported that the National Security Council announced more airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. White House pool reports said that the president himself went golfing.
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