As they continue to push for ever-more ground troops in Iraq, the Pentagon today confirmed that they are giving consideration to opening up more bases in the country, or potentially reopening bases from the previous occupation, with an eye toward getting more deeply involved in the war.
Rear Admiral Andrew Lewis talked up a single significant new base, to be operated similarly to the existing Firebase Bell, near Mosul, and also would consider other, smaller outposts to provide more artillery support in the fighting around Mosul.
Lewis downplayed the move to ground troops in Iraq, a war in which President Obama repeatedly ruled out the introduction of “boots on the ground,” insisting that the ground troops are no different than war planes conceptually, and that they’re just conducting surface-to-surface strikes instead of air-to-surface strikes.
It’s hard to tell, indeed, if such bases aren’t already happening, as Firebase Bell was operating for quite some time before the Pentagon was forced to admit to its existence when ISIS attacked the site and killed a Marine. They insisted they were planning an official announcement later that week.
The US has a treaty with Iraq capping the number of ground troops in the country at 3,870, though the Pentagon has conceded that they usually have in excess of 5,000 troops in Iraq at any given time.