Tags: America's Forum | Exclusive Interviews | Iraq | ISIS | Kurds | Iraq | special forces

Steven Bucci: US Likely Embedded with Kurds

By Melissa Clyne   |   Monday, 18 Aug 2014 12:18 PM

The success of Kurdish forces in regaining control of parts of Iraq from Islamic militants is evidence of "coordination between the Kurdish ground forces and the American air assets," former Special Forces officer and former military assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Steven Bucci told Newsmax TV Monday.

"Looking at the effectiveness of the strikes, I'm guessing some of those advisers that the president has sent over there may be moving with [the Kurds]," Bucci said on "America's Forum." "Similar to what we did in Afghanistan right after 9/11, where we had our Green Berets embedded with the Northern Alliance to control the air assets in support of the Northern Alliance ground operations. That is what we need to do here. It will maximize the effectiveness of the air and it will also keep anything from happening like someone dropping bombs on a target that really isn't ISIS, but it's a local rival, for instance. If our guys are controlling it, we can minimize or eliminate those sorts of incidents."

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On Sunday, Kurdish forces took back part of the Mosul Dam, Iraq's largest, after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured it less than two weeks ago.

Aiding the Kurds to exterminate ISIS is not "mission creep," according to Bucci, who explained that sending in "soft troops" is not tantamount to deploying a "Marine division or the 82nd Airborne Division."

"That's what they're talking about when they say no boots on the ground," Bucci said. "American infantry, American armor is not going to deploy to Iraq and fight that battle. But having our soft troops together with local militaries, that is acceptable to both Congress, the president, and should be acceptable to the American people. That's what our soft guys do. They're the best in the world at it, and they can really make a difference in this situation."

Embedding U.S. Special Operations Forces with the Kurds as advisers is a win-win, Bucci said.

"Both to advise them but also to do that interface with the American and allied air assets," he said. "It's a lot easier to allow our guys to do it. They have the radios, they have the techniques, they know what the different weapons systems can do to more effectively service the targets. It'd be a lot simpler than trying to teach the Kurds at this point how to do all those things effectively."

Bucci predicts additional air power is needed in addition to the carrier-based aircraft and armed drones that are currently being used.

"Both have been very effective, but there's still so much to do, and I don't think that's going to be enough," he said. "We may see an expansion of putting some Air Force aircraft perhaps in Kuwait, perhaps in Saudi Arabia, perhaps in Turkey, remains to be seen how that'll play out."

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