When we look at the problem of ISIS and Iraq, there seems only to be two solutions. For the Democrats, it has been a wait and supply. Obama wanted little U.S. involvement on the ground. This has meant a high cost and long engagement, with low output. But, the other option may have been worse.
Trump has promoted another ramping up of American involvement. He has insinuated that had he been in power we would have had troops fighting alongside Coalition forces. This is what is known as “boots on the ground.” But this surely would have led to many more casualties for U.S. soldiers.
Now, we may see that Townsend and Mattis has a midway solution that could combine the best of both solutions.
After three years of being told they could not go to the front lines, U.S. troops advising Iraqi forces as they evict ISIS from Mosul no longer face those tight restrictions, according to the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, as the new defense secretary stood by his side in Baghdad.
“It is true that we are operating closer and deeper into the Iraqi formation,” Townsend told reporters traveling with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. “We adjusted our posture during the east Mosul fight and embedded advisers a bit further down into the formation.”
What this means is that we may not see Trump sending more forces to Iraq. But, this also seems to be an end to the hands-off approach of the Obama administration. The move could bring a quicker end as U.S. leadership and advisers will have a better view of the situation and decisions will be made faster.
It also still limits the danger and continues to place the brunt of the risk on the Iraqis. This will also give Iraq an added advantage in the future. There will be a return of pride to their once defeated and demoralized army.
It will be them and not America that saved them from the scourge that is ISIS.