On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US would no longer hesitate to engage in “direct action on the ground” in Iraq and Syria.
The change in rhetoric (and apparent shift in strategy) comes just days after the US seemingly prepared the public for what might be coming by releasing helmet cam footage of what Washington says was a raid on an ISIS prison by Delta Force (accompanied by the Peshmerga). 70 prisoners were allegedly freed although not before the US suffered its first combat death in Iraq since 2011.
The timing of the video is suspect, to say the least. It came just days after Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford visited Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi in an effort to dissuade Baghdad from requesting Russian airstrikes on ISIS targets. In short, it appears as though Washington is trying to simultaneously, i) prove to Mid-East governments that the US can still be effective in the fight against terrorism even as questions remain about ulterior motives and even as Russia racks up gains in Syria, and ii) prepare the public for the possibility that America is about to put boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Here’s more from WSJ on Washington’s new “strategy”: