February 1st, “Yes, there is a good potential that we will need additional capabilities, additional forces to provide those capabilities. And we’re looking at the right mix… in consolation with the government of Iraq and our other partners” LTG Sean MacFarland told a group of reporters.
Capabilities for what, you ask- more American troops on the ground in Iraq, to support the Iraqi army in combat against the Islamic State.
As of recent, troops serving in Iraq have adjusted their training mission to focus on conventional warfare tactics. The focus has gone from counterinsurgency to now preparing Iraqi security forces to carry out combined arms operations.
MacFarland continues, “The ability to integrate infantry, armor, artillery, air power, engineers, and other assets on the battlefield, provides the Iraqis with a decisive advantage over a static enemy dug behind complex obstacle belts.”
Under senior direction, MacFarland has begun to develop a set of proposals that would allow the United States to take a more “proactive” role in the ground battle in Iraq. The proposals could be as broad as to require coalition boots on the ground as opposed to American boots on the ground. Additionally, the proposal chosen may not require many troops on the ground for combat operations after all.
Currently, there are about 3,700 American troops in Iraq supporting Iraqi forces in a trainer roll; occasionally these troops accompany Iraqis to other forward positions in support of combat operations.
In December, Ash Carter had stated that the United States would be willing to provide the Iraqis with U.S. helicopter pilots and Apaches. Carter has also gone on record, as saying there could also be an influx of combat advisors into the country- combat advisors, the term synonymous with special operations forces.
Many of us have known for some time that the day would come where the United States would return to Iraq once more in an effort to stabilize the country. In some ways Iraq is a lot like pre Battle of Mogadishu Somalia- both nations have received American aid and support in the past and have shown signs of progress, although upon a U.S. pullout the country goes to Hell in a hand basket.
It’s funny, I remember Bush being destroyed in the media for standing in front of a “mission accomplished” banner in 2003 (while in reality the banner was for the return of the carrier group to the U.S. after its deployment in support of OIF); I’ve heard a substantially smaller amount of criticism from the main stream media in regards to the Obama administration’s declaration of an end to all combat operations in Iraq in 2010 and pullout the following year- and look where that got us.