Rational Nation USA Purveyor of Truth
Following the ISIL/ISIS threat... The three articles below, two from The New York Times and the third from The Guardian discuss the threat, the administrations current positions, and the possible military course the USA may find itself taking at some point to effectively "dismantle and destroy" ISIL/ISIS, to use the President's words.
WASHINGTON — Militants for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have traveled to Mexico and are just miles from the United States. They plan to cross over the porous border and will “imminently” launch car bomb attacks. And the threat is so real that federal law enforcement officers have been placed at a heightened state of alert, and an American military base near the border has increased its security.Read More BENEATH THE FOLD.
As the Obama administration and the American public have focused their attention on ISIS in recent weeks, conservative groups and leading Republicans have issued stark warnings like those that ISIS and other extremists from Syria are planning to enter the country illegally from Mexico. But the Homeland Security Department, the F.B.I. and lawmakers who represent areas near the border say there is no truth to the warnings.
“There is no credible intelligence to suggest that there is an active plot by ISIL to attempt to cross the southern border,” Homeland Security officials said in a written statement, using an alternative acronym for the group.
Democrats say opponents of President Obama are simply playing on concerns about terrorism as part of their attempt to portray Mr. Obama as having failed to secure the border against illegal immigration.
“There’s a longstanding history in this country of projecting whatever fears we have onto the border,” said Representative Beto O’Rourke, Democrat of Texas, who represents El Paso and other areas near the border. “In the absence of understanding the border, they insert their fears. Before it was Iran and Al Qaeda. Now it’s ISIS. They just reach the conclusion that invasion is imminent, and it never is.”
At a congressional hearing last week, Representative Jeff Duncan, Republican of South Carolina, pushed back strongly against the testimony of Homeland Security Department officials and Mr. O’Rourke, saying they were ignoring a gathering threat.
“Wake up, America,” Mr. Duncan said before storming out of the hearing. “With a porous southern border, we have no idea who’s in our country.”
But counterterrorism officials say they are far more concerned that an ISIS militant will enter the United States the same way millions of people do each year: legally, on a commercial flight. Their efforts have focused on the more than 2,000 Europeans and 100 Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight alongside extremist groups, nearly all of them crossing over its unprotected borders. Without markings in their passports to show that they traveled to Syria, American border authorities have few ways of determining where they were and stopping them from entering the country.
WASHINGTON — Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on Tuesday that he would recommend deploying United States combat forces against Islamic extremists in specific operations if the current strategy of airstrikes was not successful, offering a more expansive view of the American role in the ground war than that of President Obama.Read More BENEATH THE FOLD.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said that while he was confident in the ability of the coalition of American, European and Middle Eastern governments to stop the Islamic State, he could not completely close the door to eventually asking Mr. Obama to commit ground troops to fight the group, known as ISIS or ISIL.
“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true,” he said. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”
Any future commitment of American personnel on the ground could put Mr. Obama in a difficult position, as he has repeatedly insisted that no American troops would engage in the battlefield, and Gen. Dempsey sought to explain the apparent contradiction.
“His stated policy is that we will not have U.S. forces in ground combat,” General Dempsey said, adding, “He has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”
In his speech last week announcing the expanded campaign against Islamic State, Mr. Obama said the military advisers he was sending to Iraq would help Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence, and equipment. But he emphatically ruled out front-line fighting.
“These American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq,” he said.
But as General Dempsey made it clear, the reality of the battle might make such a hands-off approach insufficient. When Iraqi or Kurdish forces are trying to dislodge militants from urban areas like Mosul, airstrikes are less effective because they can cause civilian casualties.
In those cases, the general said, he might recommend to the president that the United States send Special Operations troops to provide what he called “close combat advising,” essentially working alongside Iraqi commanders in the field and helping them direct troops to targets.
The Pentagon leadership suggested to a Senate panel on Tuesday that US ground troops may directly join Iraqi forces in combat against the Islamic State (Isis), despite US president Barack Obama’s repeated public assurances against US ground combat in the latest Middle Eastern war.Read More BENEATH THE FOLD.
A day after US warplanes expanded the war south-west of Baghdad, Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate armed services committee that he could see himself recommending the use of some US military forces now in Iraq to embed within Iraqi and Kurdish units to take territory away from Isis.
“If we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific [Isis] targets, I will recommend that to the president,” Dempsey said, preferring the term “close combat advising”.
It was the most thorough public acknowledgement yet from Pentagon leaders that the roughly 1,600 US troops Obama has deployed to Iraq since June may in fact be used in a ground combat role, something Obama has directly ruled out, most recently in a televised speech last week.
Dempsey, who has for years warned about the “unintended consequences” of Americanizing the Syrian civil war that gave rise to Isis, said he envisioned “close combat advising” for operations on the order of taking Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, away from Isis.
He also opened the door to using US “advisers” to call in air strikes from the ground, something Dempsey said they have thus far not done but which the US Central Command leader, General Lloyd Austin, initially thought would be necessary when pushing Isis away from the Mosul Dam last month.
“He shares my view that there will be circumstances when we think that’ll be necessary, but we haven’t encountered one yet,” said Dempsey, himself a veteran of the last Iraq war.
Obama’s prohibition on ground forces in a combat role was less ironclad than the president has publicly stated, Dempsey suggested.
“At this point, his stated policy is we will not have US ground forces in direct combat,” Dempsey said, to include spotting for US air strikes. “But he has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”
All Via: Memeorandum