The escalation of the US ground war in Iraq looks to be on the precipice of a dramatic acceleration tonight, as Pentagon officials openly talk about their new plan, in which 450 new ground troops will be establishing a new US base on the outskirts of ISIS-held Ramadi, as a “model” to be repeated across Iraq.
These bases are being called “lily pad sites,” and the Pentagon says it is actively looking to establish another 3-4 such sites, with around 1,000 additional ground troops set to deploy for that, as the “next step.” The program will go on from there.
While the troops are nominally being sent to “advise” and “train” Iraqi forces, putting them within obvious shooting distance of major ISIS holdings is just the latest in a series of Pentagon efforts to get US forces enough in harm’s way to justify ground combat as “defensive” in nature.
Ironically, the training mission never seems to happen at any rate, with the previous round of US deployments in Anbar, to the Ayn al-Asad Air Base, seeing those troops get intermittently shelled by ISIS, but no Iraqi troops bothering to show up for their much vaunted training.
Officials don’t seem to be too anxious to wait and see if the new deployment is actually a success, or even anything short of an unmitigated disaster, before declaring it a model for the rest of the country, seemingly entirely on the grounds that it will get more boots into Iraq faster than anything else.
President Obama also shrugged off questions about how long this war is liable to take, insisting not only that he doesn’t know, but that it’s impossible for anyone to know.