Nov 10, 2014
After a briefing from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Army General Lloyd Austin, President Obama announced he authorized the U.S. military to deploy 1,500 service members to Iraq as part of the ongoing mission to combat the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.
Watch Kimberly’s San Diego 6 News TV segment here
The White House also announced it requested Congress to appropriate $5.6 billion in additional resources for FY2015 to expand the renewed fight against Islamic terrorism. “We’ve got to make sure our effort to fight ISIS are properly funded,” President Obama said.
Nonetheless, many Americans as well as lawmakers, are concerned that the request for additional troops is nothing more than mission creep for a battle most war-weary Americans do not want. The new request was also accompanied with a bill asking for at least $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars to arm and train the Syrian Free Army as well as Kurdish forces.
According to the Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby, the latest request for troops will establish “two expeditionary advise and assist operations centers, in locations outside of Baghdad and Erbil.” Secretary Hagel added that he “made this recommendation to President Obama based on the request of the Government of Iraq, U.S. Central Command’s assessment of Iraqi units, the progress Iraqi security forces have made in the field, and in concert with the development of a coalition campaign plan to defend key areas and go on the offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”
Not surprisingly, Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services committee explained in a statement that the request for more troops was far too small to make a difference in the turbulent Middle East. “I would urge the President to reconsider his strategy and clearly explain how this additional funding supports a new direction. Such clarity is more likely to find swift congressional approval.”
Fresh off the midterm romp, Darrell Issa (R-CA) told the Sunday talk shows that the president could expect support from Republicans for his ISIS war plans. The chair of the House Oversight Committee disclosed details on his recent Middle East trip and expressed concern for Iraq’s commitment to fight ISIS. “The government in Baghdad is quite delusional.” He revealed that only 8,000 soldiers of the 800,000 U.S.-trained were prepared to fight ISIS. Despite that grim news, the congressman was confident the Kurdish forces were capable of confronting the barbaric terror group.
While many are questioning the worthiness and will of Iraq fighters, U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel has confidence issues of his own. According to a Defense One “national security survey,” a sampling of the 450,000 Department of Defense employees roughly 25 percent approve of his leadership, 35 percent disapprove and 39 percent had “no opinion.” In the same survey, 77 percent of the respondents admitted the world was a much more dangerous since President Obama took the helm.
In any event, President Obama did acknowledge that the voters sent a clear message to Washington to “get stuff done” for the American people. And said he would let Congress vote on the Authorization to Use Military Force agreement (AUMF) that expires next month on December 11. However, it is more likely that the newly elected Congress will debate the merits of the “use of military force” to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria sometime after the New Year. Most concede it will be a lively debate, but ultimately it will receive overwhelming support from both political parties.
The outgoing Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Dick Durbin (D-IL), said he preferred the vote on an AUMF for military operations in Iraq and Syria to take place in the lame duck session. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said it should be up to the new Congress to approve AUMF and preferred that Obama send a permission slip. “Doing this with a whole group of members who are on their way out the door, I don’t think that is the right way to handle this,” Boehner told The New York Times.
In the meantime, Congress will move forward on the massive National Defense Authorization Act. The mammoth $1 trillion Pentagon spending bill includes all kinds of war spending like the $60 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations to combat terrorism worldwide. Keep in mind this $60 billion does not include the nearly $6 billion President Obama just requested to battle ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Plus, Secretary Hagel along with Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said they would ask Congress for even more money to fight Ebola in Africa and additional funds for the Middle East.
Still missing from the discussion is a mission statement and end game plan.
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