After Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified before Congress and acknowledged that America needs to fight a ground war in order to stop ISIS, Iraq’s government fired back on Wednesday saying it doesn’t need and didn’t ask for the “direct action on the ground” promised by the Defense Department. Iraq’s Prime Minister al-Abadi’s spokesman spoke to NBC News and said that any U.S. military operations within the country must be cleared through the Iraqi government.
Sa-ad al-Hadithi acknowledged that they did need American assistance in Iraq helping to arm and train Iraqi forces. The U.S. currently has around 3,300 troops in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi forces and protect U.S. facilities. The recent raid on an ISIS compound which led to the death of one American serviceman was in response to a request made by the Kurdish regional government.
White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said Tuesday the administration has “no intention of long-term ground combat,” adding that U.S. forces will continue to robustly train, advise and assist. The response from Iraq to the possibility of U.S. ‘boots on the ground’ operation comes as Iraq’s coalition is attempting to force the Prime Minister to request Russian airstrikes against the ISIS terror group.
Moscow’s move to mount strikes against ISIS in Syria has put the U.S. and Russia at odds.This is an Iraqi affair and the government did not ask the U.S. Department of Defense to be involved in direct operations,” spokesman Sa’ad al-Hadithi told NBC News. “We have enough soldiers on the ground.” Carter said he expects more actions like the one last week that freed dozens of captives but left an American commando dead in Iraq.
We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground,” “We expect to intensify our air campaign, including with additional US and coalition aircraft, to target ISIL with a higher and heavier rate of strikes,” “This will include more strikes against ISIL high-value targets as our intelligence improves.”
Pentagon officials insist the diminished tempo reflects a lack of decent targets, and has nothing to do with Russia launching its own bombing campaign a month ago. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter wants a more active US strategy, but this inevitably runs counter to the prevailing mood in the White House. Barack Obama, after all, has cast his presidency as one that will withdraw US troops from foreign wars, not engage in new ones. There is talk of deploying a small number of Apache attack helicopters to Iraq.