US troops in Iraq are engaged in some combat operations
While the White House maintains that U.S. troops supporting the fight against Islamic State militants are not in a combat role, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged Thursday that troops are fighting and dying in combat operations in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.Obama is playing to his kook anti-war base and ignoring reality. Also, the ignoring of reality allows him to also abstain from more effective uses of force in dealing with the enemy.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter about the status of operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Afghanistan, or ISIS, also known as ISIL, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford answered a line of questions from Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan about the March 19 death of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin due to indirect fire at a small outpost in northern Iraq.
"Was he killed in combat?" Sullivan, a Marine reserve officer, asked.
"He was killed in combat, Senator," Dunford responded.
Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, who was killed by ISIS fire on Oct. 22 in Kirkuk province, Iraq, also died in combat, Dunford said.
"When our [Joint Special Operations Command] troops conduct [counter-terrorism] missions in that part of the world, are they conducting combat operations?" Sullivan pressed.
Dunford agreed they were, and also assented that Air Force A-10s and F-16s dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria were also engaged in combat operations.
Why then, Sullivan asked, did the White House refuse to acknowledge that troops were in combat?
"Why does the administration go through these crazy somersaults that the entire country knows is not correct to say our troops are not in combat when they're in combat? The chairman of the Joint Chiefs just stated that pretty much everybody in the Middle East is in combat. So why does the president not level with the American people, why does the White House spokesman continually say they're not in combat," Sullivan said.
"I also think it diminishes the sacrifice of the American troops and their families," he added. "We know they're in combat; why can't we level with the American people and say they're in combat?"
In a Tuesday briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated the administration's stance on the topic.