7:42 AM, Sep 20, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Although President Obama has been unequivocal that US forces will not return to Iraq for "boots on the ground" combat, some in his administration (Gen. Martin Dempsey, John Kerry, Joe Biden) have dropped hints that future events may change that. Friday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno joined the chorus, telling the Defense Writers Group, according to the Army News Service (ANS), that "all options are open. 'I never rule anything out,' he added."
Odierno also said that while air strikes have proved effective in the short term in slowing ISIL's gains, concern about civilians casualties will blunt their effectiveness down the road. He added that the military will be carefully "vetting" the anti-ISIL forces that are due to receive training and support, including weapons, to make sure "they are who they [say they] are and won't be part of some extremist group."
For the present, however, the ground forces will come from local nations, according to the ANS report:
"Airstrikes have slowed the advances of ISIL. But airstrikes alone won't defeat ISIL," Odierno cautioned. "You need a complementary ground capability that will go in and do that."
These boots on the ground will be moderates in Syria and Iraq, as well as troops from other Arab nations who would like to assist, he said, adding that the U.S. will train, equip and advise them as needed.
"We all agree with the current strategy we're executing," he said, referring to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president. "We've got to give this time to work. It's important they're the ones who will defeat ISIL."
Odierno added that as is the case in any operation, assessments will continue to be made as events unfold, and that with input from his commanders, he will continue to provide the chairman and the president with candid advice.
All options are open, he said. "I never rule anything out," he added.
6:17 PM, Sep 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a debate on CNN this afternoon between Jay Carney and Bill Kristol, the former White House spokesman conceded that in fact there will be "boots on the ground" fighting the Islamic State.
ISIS Strategy Unrealistic.7:29 AM, Sep 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Robert Gates, President Obama's first defense secretary, said this morning on CBS that President Obama's strategy for defeating the Islamic State is unrealistic:
"The reality is, they're not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the Peshmerga or the Sunni tribes acting on their own," said Gates.
10:07 AM, Sep 16, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
We're at war. We're putting boots on the ground. We're not waiting around for the host nation's government to get its affairs in order, or for a regional coalition to commit first. The president has apparently overcome his reluctance to use the military, his worries about a commitment to intervene without an exit strategy, and his usual reluctance to acknowledge (even implicitly) that his administration was wrong when it assured us that there was nothing much for us to worry about.
What difference does it make?11:42 AM, Sep 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
John Kerry argued that it doesn't really make a difference if we call U.S. action against ISIS a "war." He criticized the "tortured debate" this morning on CBS:
"Mr. Secretary, thank you so much," said CBS host Bob Schieffer. "Can I clear up one thing first. This week you went to some lengths to say you wouldn't call this a war, but yet at the Pentagon and at the State Department even they were saying we are at war with ISIS. Are we at war?"
3:01 PM, Sep 8, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
On Wednesday, the eve of the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, President Obama will speak to the American people about his strategy for dealing with the rise of the Islamic State, the would-be caliphate bestriding Iraq and Syria, the most palpable and present threat to the region since Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and, later, Kuwait.
11:40 AM, Sep 7, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
President Obama spoke about ISIS at length in his Meet the Press interview this morning, but he didn't offer much clarity as to what he's going to do about ISIS. One might say he's learned from bitter experience not to lay down red lines, and that he 's being purposefully vague.
8:19 PM, Sep 2, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a statement to the press, White House press secretary Josh Earnest announces 350 more troops to Iraq "to protect our diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad, Iraq."
12:34 PM, Jun 13, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
All options are not on the table as President Obama figures out how to deal with the ongoing situation in Iraq. The president promised not to send U.S. troops back "into combat in Iraq."
"We will not be sending U.S. forces back into combat in Iraq but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq's security forces. And I'll be reviewing those options in the days ahead," said Obama.
The soldiers in Bowe Bergdahl's platoon speak up.
3:45 PM, Jun 2, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
The Obama administration is facing mounting questions about the controversial prisoner swap that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from jihadists in Pakistan in exchange for the transfer and ultimate release of five senior Taliban commanders previously held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Troop levels to fall to below 10,000.12:38 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By FREDERICK W. KAGAN
Media reports suggest that President Obama is looking to declare victory and withdraw from Afghanistan, as he did from Iraq. The military commander in Afghanistan, General Joe Dunford, has said that he needs 10,000 US troops to accomplish the missions the president has said he wants to accomplish after this year.
In the Air Force.2:25 PM, Jul 26, 2013 • By MACKENZIE EAGLEN
As the sequester sinks in and starts to hit the U.S. military, many have focused on the impact of unpaid furlough days for civilians, air shows grounded, and fireworks foregone.
12:45 PM, May 30, 2013 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
“The fundamental fact that we all have to be aware of is, when we go to war now, we send less than 1 percent of our population to war and they’re all volunteers and many of them are from working-class environments. And in the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nothing was asked of the rest of us. We didn’t pay any additional taxes. We didn’t have to think about those wars if we didn’t have anyone involved. … It’s not just unjust, it’s kind of immoral for a democratic republic to go to war under those terms because those young men and women and their families are paying the high price. They’re coming home emotionally damaged or physically damaged or, too often, in body bags. And we’ve got to have a national consciousness about that.”
2:07 PM, May 27, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
At a ceremony marking Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, President Barack Obama said that most Americans are able to remain unaffected by war.
10:02 AM, May 27, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On this Memorial Day, as on others, every American will turn to his own thoughts and prayers, and recall his own favorite speeches, music, and poetry. Memorial Day has no one dominant "text." But for those who aren't familiar with it, I recommend Theodore O'Hara's poem, "Bivouac of the Dead," written in 1847 in memory of Kentucky troops killed in the Mexican War. Various lines are inscribed at different places in Arlington Cemetery, including at the McClellan Gate. It's not, I suppose, great poetry, but I've always found it moving.