President Obama’s plan to send another 1,500 ground troops to Iraq, doubling the number of US troops there, is obviously a huge escalation of the war. It’s more than just numbers too, as the Pentagon openly talks about the new troops being able to “go on the offensive against ISIS.”
Selling it to Congress, along with the $5+ billion request that goes along with it, will be less about convincing the current Congress of the merits of escalation, and more about selling it to those who will move on from the lame duck Congress that it’s escalation enough.
That’s no small task, as particularly in the Senate the incoming leadership is hugely more hawkish than before, and wants a far, far bigger ground war across Iraq and Syria than what these 1,500 additional troops are going to be able to provide.
So in addition to pushback from what antiwar Congressmen there are, the administration could also face resistance from the hawkish end of things, as the Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) led hawks seek to reject anything short of a full-scale war.
Exactly what these 1,500 new troops are going to be doing is not being officially stated, as on the one hand officials present them as trainers and advisers, and on the other hand the Pentagon talks about sending them into combat zones to take the fight to ISIS.