Dempsey Considering Placing U.S. Troops Alongside Iraqi Forces

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, right, accompanied by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, before the House Armed Services committee hearing on the Islamic State Group.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

November 14, 2014

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told a congressional panel on Thursday that he wouldn’t rule out placing U.S. troops alongside Iraqi forces on the front line in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Testifying about the United States’ strategy in Iraq, Dempsey said Iraqi forces were “doing a better job,” but might need U.S. assistance in the complex fight to retake Mosul, the nation’s second biggest city, from ISIS.

“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend those [Iraqi] forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee.

His statement was in response to a question posed by the committee chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), who asked Dempsey to clarify under what circumstances he would envision sending U.S. troops into combat situations.

McKeon referred to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes’ assertion aired last month in the FRONTLINE investigation, The Rise of ISIS. “The president’s view is that we do not need to do this with U.S. combat forces on the ground,” Rhodes told FRONTLINE.

Dempsey did clarify that he didn’t envision more than a “modest” U.S. force in Iraq. “I just don’t foresee a circumstance when it would be in our interest to take this fight on ourselves with a large military contingent,” he said.

Watch the exchange between McKeon and Dempsey:

There are already 1,500 U.S. troops in Iraq serving as advisers. Last week, Obama approved sending 1,500 more advisors to help train and assist the Iraqi army, especially in the ISIS-besieged Anbar province.

Watch The Rise of ISIS below:

Priyanka Boghani

Priyanka Boghani, Deputy Digital Editor, FRONTLINE



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