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WaPo: Obama Troop Boost Doesn't Amount to Change in Iraq Policy

Image: WaPo: Obama Troop Boost Doesn't Amount to Change in Iraq Policy
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By    |   Thursday, 11 Jun 2015 10:06 AM

President Barack Obama's announcement on Wednesday that he is sending 450 more troops to Iraq to train the country's forces is a continuation of the course he has set to avoid a deeper entanglement there, The Washington Post reported.

American service members will be deployed to Iraqi headquarters to oversee the offensive to recapture areas in the Anbar province, including Ramadi, while aiding disaffected Sunnis and bolstering the Iraqi army.

The strategy stands in stark contrast to one aimed at scoring battlefield victories. The military will not be engaging in combat on the front lines and the deployment does not include forward air controllers who could direct airstrikes from U.S. bombers.

"Taken together, the steps and limits show Obama's deep-seated conviction that only the Iraqis can resolve a fight driven by Sunni feelings of anger, persecution, and abandonment at the hands of the Shiite government in Baghdad," the Post said.

"The president's focus, for now, is on forcing the Iraqis to solve their own problems. He is also determined to keep Americans — who haven't suffered a single combat casualty in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — out of harm's way."

Experts are making a similar interpretation of the president's plans.

"The loss of Ramadi needed a response," Brian Katulis, a senior Middle East analyst at the Center for American Progress, told the Post. "I see this as more of a tactical shift. The focus is still on getting the Iraqis to pull their own weight. It is important but largely tactical."

Senior White House officials are emphasizing the practical benefits of having hundreds of new advisers assist Iraqi forces.

"When we're fused with them and advising and assisting, we're able to kind of see a little better and — buck up the ranks," said Brett McGurk, a deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing Iraq policy, according to the Post. "I think this will have a fairly dramatic effects.... Sometimes the enemy is not as strong as they pretend to be."

But the plans are already being criticized by Republicans who say adding advisers won't be enough to address the country's sectarian divisions.

"Disconnected from a broader coherent strategy, it is not likely to be any more successful than our previous efforts," said the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, according to the Post.

The Post concluded that Obama's "modest troop boost" was tantamount to an acknowledgment that the United States is in for a long war that will likely extend well beyond his presidency.

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President Barack Obama's announcement on Wednesday that he is sending 450 more troops to Iraq to train the country's forces is a continuation of the course he has set to avoid a deeper entanglement there, The Washington Post reported.
iraq, obama, troops, advisers, war
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2015-06-11
Thursday, 11 Jun 2015 10:06 AM
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