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article imageOp-Ed: As Green Berets enter northern Iraq U.S. more deeply involved

By Ken Hanly     Jul 4, 2014 in World
Baghdad - Increases in the number of U.S. troops has always been accompanied by claims that they are advisers or defenders of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and U.S. interests in the area. However, now troops have been sent north to Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Special Forces, Green Berets in this case, have been sent to Erbil to set up a second "Joint Operations Center." Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel insisted that: "None will perform combat missions." While this may be strictly true they no doubt will accompany combat missions in order to assess Iraqi capabilities and in so doing they may become involved in the battles.
As this article points out, the choice of Erbil in Kurdistan is rather strange. The Americans claim that they are present to assess Iraqi forces capability. However, the Kurds have their own peshmerga forces for protection and it is not clear that they would even allow Iraqi armed forces into their areas for "joint" missions with US advisers. The Kurdish Regional Government is even planning a referendum on independence from the Iraqi federal government. If the mission of the US is to assess the Iraqi military it makes little sense to be in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Regional Government. The mission must include an assessment of Kurdish forces as well.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey said that the war could "get to the point" where the US would start launching airstrikes against ISIS. While there is continual denial of any mission creep by the US, the facts point in a different direction: Initially, officials pledged “no boots on the ground.” That was broken quickly, and replaced with “no combat troops.” The combat troops came Monday, and followed up with attack helicopters for the troops to fly.
The new story told by Chuck Hagel is, as pointed out earlier, that the combat troops are there but not to engage in combat.
The Apache attack helicopters in Baghdad to "protect American interests" could at any time be used to attack ISIS positions. The number of US troops in Iraq has been constantly increasing: CNN is reporting that in addition to the 200 combat troops reported to Congress, another 100 troops who were in the area are moving into Iraq. These troops are in addition to the 300 troops already guarding the embassy and 300 “advisers” announced last week.
While General Dempsey was optimistic about the ability of Iraqi forces to protect Baghdad he thought that on their own they would be unable to retake cities that ISIS had captured. This seems to imply that US air attacks were part of the solution to that problem. However, Dempsey insisted that the US had not yet reached any decision on direct action in Iraq.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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