Speaking today during a visit to the naval command ship USS Blue Ridge, Defense Secretary Ash Carter insisted that the ongoing political battles within the Iraqi government will in no way impact the ongoing efforts to escalate America’s war against ISIS on Iraqi soil.
“We’re going to accelerate the military campaign as fast as we can,” Carter declared. It is believed that the escalating US involvement is going to include significantly more ground troops, along with the introduction of Apache attack helicopters.
Carter’s talk of escalation being independent of the Iraqi political situation is perhaps unreasonable, as Prime Minister Abadi signed off on 3,870 US ground troops, but the Pentagon is openly talking about having closer to 5,000 troops in Iraq, and the further “acceleration” is only going to put more pressure on Abadi to do something to show that the deal has some meaning.
It also severely undercuts comments by Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Iraq on Friday, and was insisting that there was no discussion at all of adding troops because Abadi hadn’t requested them. Clearly, the US designs on escalating are ongoing irrespective of Abadi’s requests, but Carter’s publicizing of that fact only damages the credibility of both Abadi and Kerry.