Speaking today on his plan to double the number of US ground troops in Iraq, President Barack Obama said the deployment signals a “new phase” in the ongoing war against ISIS.
“Phase one was getting an Iraqi government that was inclusive and credible – and we now have done that,” Obama insisted, saying it was now time to go on the offensive against ISIS.
Despite this, and despite Pentagon officials saying the new ground troops would be deployed to the front lines in Iraq’s Anbar Province, Obama maintained that the troops still won’t be going into combat.
Despite the pretense, the deployment of ground troops into Anbar all but ensures that they will be in the line of fire of ISIS forces, and will as such be directly involved in combat against them.
It seems the administration is trying to tell two distinct stories about the new war, sticking to his pledges of not having ground combat in public statements, while trying to assure the incoming Congressional hawks that major escalation of the war is indeed in the offing.
Where this leaves those troops remains to be seen, but it is hard to imagine that the 3,000 ground troops that will be in Iraq at the end of the current round of escalation are anything close to the endgame, and that more, perhaps dramatically more, are coming.