After President Obama said the US would not send troops to fight ISIS in the Middle East, the top military official in the US has said if the current strategy were to fail, American ground troops would be needed to stop the growing threat of the Islamic State.
Army General Martin Dempsey gave testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee saying, according to ABC News, “To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president.”
Gen. Dempsey also said he believes the current strategy of forming an international coalition with nations from the West and Middle East is the appropriate response at this time. If there was a direct threat to the US though, Gen. Dempsey said, according to the BBC, “I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces.”
One instance where US ground troops may be required to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the area would be in the retaking of the second largest Iraqi city, Mosul. “It could very well be part of that particular mission to provide close combat advising or accompanying for that mission,” said Gen. Dempsey. “But for the day-to-day activities that I anticipate will evolve over time, I don’t see it to be necessary right now.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also spoke to the committee saying the initial plan to keep current airstrikes focused in Iraq would expand to Syria, according to the LA Times. Hagel said, “targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria, including its command and control, logistics capabilities and infrastructure.”
As of now, the US has conducted over 160 airstrikes against ISIS and the Islamic State in order to help ally forces on the ground in Iraq.