US Struggles to Decide on ‘Combat’ Narrative in Iraq

Obvious Combat Mission Being Spun as 'Advisory'

Last week’s raid against an ISIS prison in Iraq, which led to the first American combat death of the latest Iraq war, has left the administration struggling with repeated promises not to send ground troops into combat in Iraq, and the obvious combat nature of the mission.

While most analysts expected that the raid would simply mark the eventual shift to overt ground combat, one which has been expected at any rate, Pentagon officials have tried to present overt gunbattles with enemy troops as an “advisory” mission.

Adding to the confusion, officials are also promising more similar raids in the future, after previously trying to downplay it as a “unique” case and not indicative of a shift on the ground.

Likely part of this dispute is that the raid was approved by the Secretary of Defense, who only “informed” the White House of the fact. The White House seems to be trying to avoid going directly on the record about the matter until they see whether the public is going to buy the idea of this being something short of combat.

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.