President Barack Obama reaffirmed Wednesday that he does not intend to send U.S. troops into combat against the Islamic State, despite doubts about the ability of Iraqi forces, Kurdish fighters and Syrian rebels to carry out the ground fight on their own.
“The American forces do not and will not have a combat mission,” Obama told troops at MacDill Air Force Base.
It was a firm response to suggestions raised Tuesday by his top military commander that, under certain circumstances, American ground forces may be needed.
Obama said U.S. troops “will support Iraqi forces on the ground as they fight for their own country against these terrorists.”
But, he added, “As your commander in chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”
On that point, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was in agreement with Obama and stressed in a Wednesday interview with The Associated Press that he sees no need for other countries to send troops into Iraq to help fight the Islamic State group.
“Not only is it not necessary,” al-Abadi said. “We don’t want them. We won’t allow them.”
In his remarks, Obama offered a vision of a potent force that can have a major role in conflicts, a more forceful view than he has embraced before. But he still stressed that for the effort against the militants to succeed, the U.S. will need to lead the international coalition and local forces must handle a significant role.
“Frankly, there just aren’t a lot of other folks who can perform in the same way. In fact, there are none. There are some things only we can do. There are some capabilities only we have,” he said.
Story compiled with information from Associated Press.