Half of the potential military prowess in Iraq is not capable of effectively teaming up with the United States. The other half requires rebuilding efforts consisting of additional training and equipment. Dempsey is hoping this force is made ready with intelligence, air surveillance and tactical air power, along with advisers to assist. Dempsey:
This is about training them in protected locations and then enabling them…
Dempsey also explains that a large US military force, also known as boots on the ground, cannot fix the problem of the Islamic State taking over large swaths of land. He says the key is to form an Iraqi government that unites the Kurdish and Sunni populations as equal partners. Dempsey:
I’m telling you, if that doesn’t happen then it’s time for Plan B.
The general further explains why even US air power cannot ultimately stop ISIS. Dempsey:
What we’ve seen so far is, a lot of the black flags have come down, a lot of the convoys have dispersed, a lot of the (fighter) assembly areas have been moved into urban areas. This will be a campaign of adaptation.
In a joint press conference and signing ceremony, Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey announce the decision to rescind the ban on women serving in direct combat roles. The Secretary directs the process to be completed by Jan 1, 2016.
Today we are acting to expand the opportunities for women to serve in the United States armed forces and to better align our policies with the experiences we have had over the past decade of war. Ultimately, we’re acting to strengthen the joint force.
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Dempsey says in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he will recommend deploying ground troops in Iraq in specific operations if the strategy of airstrikes doesn’t succeed. The combat troops would likely be special forces who can call in airstrikes from the ground. Dempsey says he is confident the coalition will stop ISIS:
My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true. But if it fails to be true, and there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.
Dempsey acknowledges the view is at odds with President Obama’s preferred strategy of avoiding boots on the ground:
His stated policy is that we will not have U.S. forces in ground combat. He has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.
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