Obama says no boots on the ground, despite sending some troops to Iraq to work with the Kurds. But he has said no ground combat troops, he made up his mind.
MR. EARNEST: I did not see the full context of Secretary Gates’s remarks. But with that caveat, let me say that the President has been clear about the need to take the fight to ISIL on the ground in Iraq and in Syria. What the President has ruled out are American servicemen and women being in a position where they are the ones that are responsible for engaging in combat operations against ISIL on the ground in Iraq and Syria. The President will not consider that option.
What the President will do, however, is ramp up the assistance that we’re providing to Iraqi security forces as they take the fight to ISIL on the ground in their country. The President has said that he will deploy and has already ordered American airstrikes against ISIL targets in support of Iraqi security forces and their ground operations.
Obama is adamant. “Ruled out” is pretty strong.
General Dempsey said:
“He has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis,” Dempsey said. “If we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific [Islamic State] targets, I’ll recommend that to the president.”
To rule them out on a case-by-case basis? But that’s is not the only issue.
Josh Earnest tells Ed Henry that the troops sent can defend themselves.
Q The last one on that point — in your exchange with Jon, if U.S. troops are forward deployed, as you say, alongside Iraqi troops, giving them tactical guidance, and these U.S. troops are fired upon by ISIS, are the U.S. troops to do nothing?
MR. EARNEST: U.S. troops will have rules of engagement; they always do when they enter a situation like this.
Q And what would those be? Will they fire back at them?
MR. EARNEST: Again, I’m not going to detail those rules of engagement. The Department of Defense can do that for you. But certainly the Commander-in-Chief would expect that the American troops do what is necessary to defend themselves. That would be –-
Q If they’re defending themselves and they’re firing back they’re in combat.
The last statement key. “Defending themselves.” They will have the means of defending themselves, only. So they obviously are only in a an defensive posture. Earnest added:
MR. EARNEST: Iraq is a very dangerous place and American military personnel will have the equipment they need to defend themselves. But what their role will be — and this is what’s real important for people to understand — their role will not be to roll across the border in a long line of tanks to occupy significant territory in Iraq. Their role will be to provide advice and assistance to Iraqi security forces who are taking the fight on the ground against ISIL. In some cases, that could mean being on the ground in forward-deployed locations to call in airstrikes –-
At least they’ll have the equipment they need to defend themselves.
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