The White House and the Defense Department announced today that President Obama will order an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq, more than doubling the 1,400 who are currently there.
On Wednesday, in his first post-election press conference, the president said he will be seeking from Congress a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to engage in warfare against the Islamic State, which is now operating out of territory it has seized in Iraq and Sryia.
At the end of 2011, as he headed into the 2012 election year, President Obama removed all U.S. troops from Iraq, and declared the war there over.
That war had been authorized by an AUMF that Congress approved on Oct. 11, 2002.
Since Obama declared that Iraq War over, Iraq has seen the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). ISIS is a terrorist group that sprang from al Qaeda, was expelled from al Qaeda, and then went on to take control of a large territory in Iraq and Syria. Its aim is to create a caliphate in the region that now includes Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced the troop deployment this afternoon. The additional 1,500 personnel he said will be in “a noncombat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces.”
“U.S. Central Command will establish two expeditionary advise and assist operations centers, in locations outside of Baghdad and Erbil, to provide support for the Iraqis at the brigade headquarters level and above,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman told National Public Radio. “These centers will be supported by an appropriate array of force protection.”
On Dec. 14, 2011, Obama traveled to Fort Bragg to announce that he had brought all troop home from Iraq and that he war was over.
“It’s harder to end a war than begin one,” Obama said then. “Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq–all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering–all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.”
In his ensuing reelection campaign, the president repeatedly took credit–at rallies–for fulfilling the promise of his first campaign to end the Iraq war.
“I’ve kept the commitment that I’ve made,” Obama said, for example, at an Oct. 24, 2012 rally in Iowa. “I told you we would win the war in Iraq. We did.”
“I mean what I say and I say what I mean,” Obama said on Nov. 5, 2012. “I said I’d end the war in Iraq. I ended it.”
On Jan. 21 of this year, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, issued an audio statement making a direct and unambiguous threat to the United States.
“Our last message is to the Americans,” he said. “Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day.”
On Wednesday, Obama explained why he believed he needed a new war authorization.
“With respect to the AUMF, we’ve already had conversations with members of both parties in Congress, and the idea is to right-size and update whatever authorization Congress provides to suit the current fight, rather than previous fights,” Obama said Wednesday.
“In 2001, after the heartbreaking tragedy of 9/11, we had a very specific set of missions that we had to conduct, and the AUMF was designed to pursue those missions,” said Obama. “With respect to Iraq, there was a very specific AUMF.”
“We now have a different type of enemy,” said Obama. “The strategy is different. How we partner with Iraq and other Gulf countries and the international coalition–that has to be structured differently. So it makes sense for us to make sure that the authorization from Congress reflects what we perceive to be not just our strategy over the next two or three months, but our strategy going forward.”
As of the end of August, there was no communication between the White House and the Pentagon concerning a strategy to fight the Islamic State, the Department of Defense (DoD) said in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Not only did the president not have a strategy, as he candidly admitted on August 28, the White House did not talk about developing a strategy with his Defense Department prior to launching airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq on August 8.
This contradicts comments by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest trying to explain Obama telling reporters on August 28, “We don’t have a strategy yet.”
The White House attempted to blame the Pentagon for delaying the development of a strategy.
On August 29, Earnest insisted that what Obama meant is that he was then-waiting for the Pentagon to make recommendations on what to do.
“The Pentagon is developing plans or military options for the president to consider if he decides that it’s necessary to do so,” he said. “But at this point, the president hasn’t made any decisions and hasn’t ordered any military action in Syria.”
In a response to a FOIA request filed by Dr. Larry Kawa as a concerned private citizen, DOD’s Office of Freedom of Information said that as of the end of August, it could not locate any paper or electronic communication documents between the president and the Pentagon mentioning a strategy to fight the Islamic State (IS, ISIS and ISIL).
The Pentagon searched for communication that would have occurred between the beginning of January thru the end of August.
“On August 28, 2014 President Obama stated in a national press conference that he ‘does not have a strategy yet’ in regards to ISIL/ISIS in Syria,” said Kawa in his FOIA request. “He blamed the Pentagon for the delay. I would like clarification of any correspondences in this regard between the Pentagon and the office of the President or executive branch.”
Kawa told Breitbart News that he spoke to the Pentagon FOIA agent in charge of handling his request in an effort to confirm that before the end of August, there was no communication between Obama and the Pentagon concerning a strategy on ISIS.
“Per DOD FOIA agent Charles Marye, any such documents would have appeared. If there were any meetings that were classified, their existence would also have appeared but did not,” said Kawa.
“In conclusion, the Pentagon is 100 percent certain that there have been no discussions either classified or unclassified regarding strategy on ISIS or ISIL,” he continued.
The Pentagon’s FOIA office searched for communication involving the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the White House, and the National Security Council, according to Kawa.
FOIA Agent Marye did not respond to numerous requests for comment.