Having sent US ground troops on a raid mission against ISIS forces, and seen their first soldier slain in ground combat in the latest Iraq war, the Pentagon has feverishly spent the last week trying to spin trading gunfire on the ground with ISIS as an “advisory” mission.
It doesn’t seem a very credible argument, but the Pentagon seems to be testing just how much combat they can get away with while still nominally claiming their ground troops are only engaged in a “non-combat” operation, with the latest reports suggesting the Pentagon is again considering embedding troops directly into Iraqi combat units.
Many in the Pentagon have favored this strategy for awhile, believing it would allow US ground troops to call in airstrikes directly, instead of relying so heavily on the Iraqis, and being willing to risk the dramatic increase in US casualties in combat.
But having more or less managed to get themselves off the hook on the first such casualty in combat by arguing its “technically not combat” the Pentagon may be feeling more aggressive, or at least more willing to send out trial balloons to see how much more non-combat fighting the public will swallow.
There is even talk of doing this in both Iraq and Syria, though the obvious problem of not really having anybody to embed them with in Syria inevitably adds to the problems there.