Escalation Nation: Generals Pushing for Boots on the Ground

October 11th, 2014 - by admin

Jason Ditz / & – 2014-10-11 01:12:04

Rep. McKeon: Generals Want Ground Troops for Iraq War

Rep. McKeon: Generals Want Ground Troops for Iraq War
Jason Ditz /

(October 10, 2014) — According to House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R — CA), the generals in charge of the new US war in Iraq have been pushing hard for President Obama to agree to an outright ground invasion of the nation.

“Our military commanders have all laid out scenarios where we need more troops,” McKeon insisted, adding that they have warned “if we don’t put boots on the ground, we can’t form the coalition.”

Obama has been clashing semi-publicly with the Pentagon for about a month on the question of ground troops, as the president tries to insist an unpopular ground war is not even being considered, and generals continuing to treat it as all but inevitable.

Rep. McKeon is an outspoken hawk on the matter, but the fact that he is being used as a sounding board for the Pentagon’s desires for escalation of the ISIS war is a sign that, despite the administration laying out the war as a many year campaign, the generals are getting itchy trigger fingers on adding the ground component.

Obama vs. Generals: Odierno Says ISIS War Needs Ground Troops
Jason Ditz /

(September 17, 2014) — President Obama’s latest comments after his meeting with Centcom was pretty clear about his position of no combat operations being performed by US ground troops in Iraq, yet the Pentagon seems to continue to strongly disagree.

Following up on yesterday’s comments by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey saying ground combat was possible, Army Chief Gen. Ray Odierno is now saying he believes the war will certainly require ground combat for any chance of success.

Gen. Odierno couched his position as one determined to keep ISIS from having a “safe haven” in Iraq or Syria, and demanded that Congress begin debates to reverse the sequestration spending caps, which Congress has basically been ignoring anyhow.

The reality is that the White House is already starting to shift the definition of “ground troops,” and is admitting that, just as Dempsey said, those troops in Iraq are likely to take front-line positions. Officials are looking to likewise insist that special operations forces don’t actually count as “ground troops” for the promise.

Obama’s determination to keep the American public placated on the war, at least for the time being, by insisting that the war isn’t as big as it obviously is going to be, is running up against the generals’ desire to use the war as a platform for increased funding.

This risks an ongoing public struggle between the administration and the Pentagon on its rhetoric regarding the war, adding to confusion, some deliberate and some not, about what the war actually amounts to. The Pentagon tried to revise Odierno’s comments, insisting he meant Iraqi ground troops. It is an obvious attempt to manage to different narratives, but not a particularly convincing one.

In Abu Ghraib, ISIS Fighters Eight Miles From Baghdad Airport
Jason Ditz /

(October 10, 2014) — Though it is still nominally controlled by the Iraqi military, the key Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib continues to have a significant ISIS presence, meaning the fighters are just eight miles away from the runways of Baghdad Airport.

It’s not ISIS’ first attempt at taking Abu Ghraib, as they made a serious push back in April which forced Iraq to close the notorious prison there. Yet with a US air war now underway, the situation could be quite different.

ISIS now not only has the anti-aircraft weapons the Saudis provided to various Syrian rebel factions, but also everything they looted in the takeover of Mosul. That means, just a stone’s throw from the airport, they have shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles capable of downing the airliners.

That could be a game-changer for the US war in Iraq, as many of the ground troops deployed to Baghdad are nominally there to ensure control of the airport and the corridor between it and the US Embassy. That may not mean much if ISIS starts shooting down the planes.

US airstrikes in the area have focused on the outskirts of Ramadi and Fallujah, the major Anbar cities, but ISIS continues to advance down the highway, once again underscoring how little the war is accomplishing.

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