By Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge
If you like your boots on the ground, you can keep them – as long as they are Special Forces boots. Following promises that there would be no American “combat” ‘boots on the ground’, AP reports that President Obama is considering sending a small number of special forces to help the government in Baghdad. According to the official rules of “boots-on-the-ground”-edness, CIA and Special Forces do not count so ‘officially’ no promises have been broken. It’s not clear how quickly the special forces could arrive in Iraq; or whether they would remain in Baghdad or be sent to the nation’s north. With rumors of explosions rocking Baghdad airport, we suspect the former.
The White House is considering sending a small number of American special forces soldiers to Iraq in an urgent attempt to help the government in Baghdad slow the nation’s rampant Sunni insurgency, U.S. officials said Monday.
While President Barack Obama has explicitly ruled out putting U.S. troops into direct combat in Iraq, the plan under consideration suggests he would be willing to send Americans into a collapsing security situation for training and other purposes.
It’s not clear how quickly the special forces could arrive in Iraq. It’s also unknown whether they would remain in Baghdad or be sent to the nation’s north.
But The White House is being very careful to exaplin that this is not “real” boots on the ground…
White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said no combat troops would be sent to Iraq, but that the U.S. is looking at other options.
“The president was very clear that we will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq,” Hayden said in a statement. “That remains the case and he has asked his national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces.”
Just special ones…
The mission almost certainly would be small: one U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers. It also could be authorized only as an advising and training mission — meaning the soldiers would work closely with Iraqi forces that are fighting the insurgency but not officially be considered as combat troops.
The troops would fall under the authority of the U.S. ambassador and would not be authorized to engage in combat, another U.S. official said. Their mission is “non-operational training” of both regular and counter terrorism units, which the military has interpreted to mean training on military bases, not in the field, the official said.
Already, about 100 Marines and Army soldiers have been sent to Baghdad to help with embassy security, according to a U.S. official.
Obama made the end of the war in Iraq one of his signature campaign issues, and has touted the U.S. military withdrawal in December 2011 as one of his top foreign policy successes.