In a direct contradiction to yesterday’s Senate testimony by Gen. Martin Dempsey, President Obama today ruled out having any “US ground combat troops” in Iraq, insisting the military will not fight “another ground war in Iraq.”
Obama’s comments came after a briefing with military commanders at Centcom, and is in keeping with his long-standing narrative that, despite the growing number of ground troops being sent, they won’t actually get into combat. Iraq has also made clear that such troops are not welcome.
With the administration dramatically expanding its military goals in Iraq and Syria, the pledges for no ground troops are increasingly not credible, with Congressional leaders seeing a ground war as an inevitability, and Gen. Dempsey conceding that it was likely the US “advisers” would engage in ground combat embedded with Iraqi forces when they start trying to retake major ISIS-held cities.
The White House tried to downplay Dempsey’s comments as a mere hypothetical, and insisted President Obama is determined to not even review or consider any options that involve ground troops in combat.
At present there are approximately 1,600 US ground troops in Iraq nominally all labeled “advisers.” The administration has sent additional troops approximately once a week throughout the past month.