At the beginning of August of this year, President Barack Obama announced a new open-ended operation in response to the progress being made in northern Iraq by Islamic State militants.
This US-led mission will focus on aircrafts based outside Iraq, with the US defending the Kurdish city of Erbil from fighters using “targeted air strikes.” Experts are stating that tactical commanders will want more ground troops, with the US advisers supporting the Kurdish forces fighting the militants.
While recently speaking out about the use of US and Kurdish troops, retired Army Colonel Peter Mansoor, who served as executive officer in 2007 for General David Petraeus, the former US commander in Iraq and current chairman of KKR’s Global Institute, stated it would require an operating base to sustain the type of open-ended air war in Iraq. “You’re talking about a 10,000- to 15,000-soldier effort, to include maintenance and medevac and security,” he said. “But that is the price you’re going to pay if you want to roll back [ISIS]. You can’t just snap your fingers and make it go away.”
The White House continues to insist that US intervention will be limited to air strikes. Secretary of State John Kerry recently affirmed this stance, explaining, “The president has taken no option off the table, and there are current discussions taking place,” of the developing strategy.
One of the biggest challenges facing the military is Obama’s promise to prevent “genocide” of the Yazidi people trapped on Mount Sinjar. While airdrops have been made to provide food and water, this is only a short-term solution. Obama also committed to use air strikes on Islamic State forces to “break the siege” if needed and to “help refugees get the shelter and food and water they do desperately need.”
If this military campaign goes forward, thousands of troops could soon be deployed to Iraq.