After launching the ISIS war in Iraq last year, President Obama promised it would be an air war only, with no boots on the ground. After deploying a number of troops, that was revised to being a “non-combat” mission, where the troops were only there to “advise and assist.”
Yesterday, US Special Forces got in a direct gun battle with ISIS, and one soldier was slain, during a joint US-Kurdish raid. That seemingly put an end to the claims of no combat, despite Pentagon claims to the contrary. As officials try to clarify, it only gets more confusing.
Speaking today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter followed up his non-combat pledge with a promise to launch even more raids, then attempted to shift the narrative, claiming that sending ground troops into direct combat “doesn’t represent us assuming a combat role,” and that the raids are part of the advise and assist mission.
While bragging about the effectiveness of the raid was unsurprising, the attempt to spin clear combat as “non-combat” is just plain puzzling, and may suggest the Pentagon decision to launch the raid was not in keeping with the administration’s policy goals.