Pentagon Determined to Keep Ground War Option Open in Iraq

Dempsey: Ground Troops Used on 'Case-by-Case Basis'

Desperate to keep public sentiment from rising against his new war on ISIS, President Obama has repeatedly ruled out the use of ground combat troops in Iraq and Syria, albeit with some administration efforts to redefine what that actually means.

The Pentagon’s not at all keen on this “ruling out” of a ground war, particularly Army Chief Gen. Ray Odierno, who says he doesn’t think the US should ever rule anything out with the war.

Other Pentagon officials are also pushing back hard to get the “ruling out” thing limited significantly, with an apparent belief that once the mid-term elections have made public opinion less relevant, they can quickly escalate the war to include ground troops.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey seemed to suggest he already had a deal on ground troops with President Obama, claiming in comments that the president told him recommendations of ground operations would be handled on a “case-by-case basis.”

The White House has insisted they won’t consider any recommendations that involve a ground war, but again, they seem to be insisting that Special Operations forces don’t count in this regard, and seem to have some wiggle room.

Former Marine Comandant Gen. James Conway was more circumspect about the ground war being a foregone conclusion, insisting the administration’s air war plan didn’t have “a snowball’s chance in hell” of working.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.