While Pentagon and Obama Administration officials continue to insist that their goal is to take over materially all of ISIS’ territory, and to do so within the next year, behind the scenes the push is to add ever more ground troops to Iraq.
While the political leadership continues to say “no boots on the ground,” the US already has nearly 4,000 ground troops in Iraq by itself, with 6,500 ground troops total between the US and its assorted coalition partners. Pentagon officials still don’t think that’s enough.
Last week, the Pentagon started talking up the deployment of another 800 US ground troops in the near term, centered on “training” operations. This comes amid US diplomats making the rounds across coalition nations, pressing them all to add more troops of their own.
The US seems to be able to add troops to the war without serious debate, so long as each escalation is kept small. Other nations have so far resisted the call to add more troops, however, with nations like Australia saying they believe they’ve contributed enough.
Such incremental escalation of the war seems to be making it harder to sell the other nations on each new contribution they’re expected to make, since they naturally come without any real endgame, and no guarantee that the next push for a vague deployment of “more” isn’t going to be immediately followed by another.