Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


US war against ISIS steadily escalates

12 November 2014, 12:17

Washington - US military action against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria began on a small scale three months ago but has steadily expanded in size and scope, raising the stakes for Washington, experts say.

The mission has morphed from protecting religious minorities in Iraq to a vow to "destroy" the ISIS group in both Syria and Iraq, a dramatic shift for an American president who as a candidate was an outspoken opponent of the previous US war in Iraq.

"As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into another war in Iraq," President Barack Obama said on 7 August, when he announced the first US air strikes against the ISIS group in Iraq.

But last week, Obama approved reinforcements that will bring the total military footprint to 3 100 troops in Iraq, with a new mission to shape the government army into an effective fighting force.

Step-by-step expansion of the war

The justification for the initial US bombing raids in August was narrowly defined - to protect US diplomats in northern Arbil and to prevent a massacre of besieged Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.

The United States had no intention of "being the Iraqi air force", Obama said at the time.

"But that's explicitly what the United States is now," said Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Also Read: Egyptian militant group pledges loyalty to ISIS

"Mission sets expand, costs go up," he told AFP.

After more than 800 air strikes, there is no end in sight and US officials say the fight could last years.

The step-by-step expansion of the war effort is a familiar pattern for American presidents, and Congress tends to give the commander-in-chief a green light, Zenko said.

"Every administration does this. It's not unique to this White House," he said.

Risk of casualties

The American military advisers are not in a "combat role" but some of them will be based in the frontline province of Anbar in the country's west, a bastion for the IS group.

The deployment raises the risk of potential American causalities if the ISIS group overruns an Iraqi air base there or if it manages to down an American helicopter with a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile, though US officers insist those are remote scenarios.

The biggest risk of the expanding campaign is the notorious "slippery slope," with Washington increasingly pulled into the multi-sided civil war in Syria and pressure mounting to employ more military power to turn the tide, experts say.

Obama has pledged not to send ground forces into combat but some Republican lawmakers already have urged him to order in forward air controllers to direct air strikes by coalition warplanes, a proposal favored by some top brass.

Reliving the Iraq war

The US military recommended more advisers as it has pinned its hopes on nine brigades in the Iraqi army, which are deemed good enough to be trained for an eventual counter-attack.

The strategy resembles the effort undertaken during the American occupation of 2003-2011, when advisers worked with Iraqi units and Sunni tribes to fight al-Qaeda militants, said Robert Scales, a retired US Army major general.

But as the Iraqi forces train, the ISIS jihadists will have time to strengthen their hold on territory, stockpile weapons and recruit more young fighters, Scales wrote in the Washington Post.

Also Read: Obama writes rare letter to Iran's supreme leader

"If nine Iraqi brigades with their US advisers can't do it next year, the clock will keep ticking. And Obama will have two options: Accept an Islamic State 'caliphate' that occupies much of Iraq and Syria or add more US forces to the opposition," Scales wrote.

Daniel Bolger, a retired lieutenant general who led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, warned Wednesday the United States runs the risk of repeating the mistakes of "two failed wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan by relying on military action to solve political problems.

In a New York Times commentary, Bolger argued the military's experience in Iraq has been misunderstood in Washington and that the 2007 troop surge was not the success it has been portrayed as.

"The surge in Iraq did not 'win' anything. It bought time," he wrote of the reinforcements sent to salvage the war.

"But in the end, shackled to a corrupt, sectarian government in Baghdad and hobbled by our fellow Americans' unwillingness to commit to a fight lasting decades, the surge just forestalled today's stalemate," he said.

Now the United States faces the same militants it fought for eight years, and calls by hawks for larger-scale military action amounted to "insanity", said Bolger, author of "Why We Lost".

"If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, I think we're there."



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...