The nation’s top military general opened the door to putting American troops back on the ground in Iraq to help defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) on Tuesday, less than a week after President Barack Obama publicly ruled out the option. But the general, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, also added that Obama asked him “to come back to him on a case-by-case basis,” suggesting that the commander-in-chief could be convinced of increasing America’s military involvement.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dempsey stressed that while ground forces are not currently needed, “if I get to the point where I feel like for a particular mission they should accompany [Iraqi and Kurdish forces], I’ll make that recommendation.” Watch it:
“If the Iraqi security forces were ready to retake Mosul, it could very well be part of that particular mission to provide close combat advising or accompanying for that mission,” he said. “But for the day to day activities that I anticipate over time, I don’t see to be necessary right now.”
Dempsey added that American ground troops may be necessary if the growing global coalition of Arab countries doesn’t adequately commit to the mission of defeating ISIS or if the threat from ISIS increases. The comments echo remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry. Last week, Kerry reiterated Obama’s public pledge before adding, “Unless, obviously, something very, very dramatic changes.”
The Unites States has approximately 1,600 soldiers in Iraq advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces, conducting intelligence operations and surveillance and reconnaissance flights. According to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last week, just 34 percent of Americans believe that “action should include both air strikes and combat troops.”