After the fall of Ramadi in Iraq and the loss of Palmyra in Syria, under the staggering blows from increasingly organized and efficient troops of the Islamic State group, President Obama had to take action. Otherwise he would risk losing even more of the credibility that has already been damaged by a poor military stance. This is mainly because of American and coalition allied airstrikes which have continually been shown to be insufficient on their own to stop attacks from the Islamic State group.
There is the work of 3,500, and soon to be 4,000, military advisers in charge of training an Iraqi army which, as we've seen in recent combats, looks to save its own skin before protecting the populations and the towns they live in against the suicide bombing chaos of the jihadists.
It's true that the internal struggles between Shiites and Sunnis at the center of the Iraqi army do not contribute to the cohesion of the recruits nor do they give the recruits a patriotic faith, without which soldiers are nothing but mercenaries. Moreover, they are badly and irregularly paid.
A Questionable Operational Value?
What difference could 450 more trainers make to boost the Iraqi forces facing an enemy that is motivated by a fanaticism that won't wear away? Of course, this reinforcement will allow for a new training center for the regular army. Also, it's not completely useless that this new program will take place in the Anbar province, whose capital was Ramadi before it was submerged by the forces of the Islamic State. But when we look at the conditions of use of these 450 trainers, which were imposed on the army by American political authority, we remain perplexed as to their operational value.
The U.S. Army's trainers are not allowed near the front, where, in the opinion of all military experts, their presence could encourage soldiers to think that they'd been trained to fight rather than to flee at the first sign of a suicide bomber. The American experts are also not allowed to be in zones where they could guide the precision of the coalition's airstrikes, whose efficiency leaves something to be desired precisely because of the absence of observers on the ground. Finally, the Apache helicopters, important for air support of the troops on the ground, won't be used to support the possible offensives of the Iraqi army. At this point we have to ask ourselves why the Pentagon sent missile launching helicopters to Iraq whose fundamental task consists, for the moment, of transporting GIs from Baghdad to their different training centers.
Obama Doesn't Want To Start Another War
A year and a half away from the end of his term in office, President Obama, who prided himself on having pulled the American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, doesn't want to be the one to start a new war by sending enough troops to put an end to the advances of those of the Islamic State, which by now controls two thirds of Syria and half of Iraq. We understand his worry. But he's risking going down in history as the American president who, following the errors of George W. Bush, destabilized the Middle East for a long time to come by transforming it into a center of religious fanaticism and permanent danger.