Today, President Obama authorized up to 450 more American troops being sent to Iraq as advisers to ostensibly train the Iraqi military to more effectively combat ISIS.
Ideally, the decision would be part of a larger, comprehensive strategy to destroy ISIS. But even the Obama Administration isn’t so sure that’s the case. Here’s an extremely abridged timeline of the Administration’s mixed messages regarding its strategic approach (or lack thereof, depending on the day) to its fight against ISIS.
January 3rd, 2014 — ISIS overtakes Fallujah, Iraq, site of one of the most high-profile victories by American forces during the Iraq war.
Four Days Later…
January 7th, 2014– President Obama downplays ISIS as “junior varsity”
August 20th, 2014 — American journalist James Foley publicly beheaded by ISIS
Eight Days Later…
August 28th, 2014 — Asked about plans to combat ISIS, President Obama said, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy, yet.”
May 3rd, 2015 — ISIS claims first-ever attack on American soil in Garland, Texas
Twelve Days Later…
May 15th, 2015 — Chief of Staff of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve — “The coalition and Iraqi security forces’ strategy to defeat and dismantle [ISIS] is clear and on track”
May 17th, 2015 — ISIS captures Ramadi, Iraq, 68 miles west of Baghdad
Two Days Later…
May 19th, 2015 — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest claims “areas of setbacks,” but says overall, the Administration’s track record against ISIS in Iraq was a success.
May 22nd, 2015 — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey says “The ISF (Iraqi Security Force) was not driven out of Ramadi. They drove out of Ramadi.”
May 24th, 2015 — U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter says, “What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight” against ISIS. “They (U.S.-backed Iraqi forces) were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight, they withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.”
June 8th, 2015 — President Obama: “We don’t yet have a complete strategy.”
The next day…
June 9th, 2015 — “We DO have a strategy. The president was referring to a specific plan to improve training and equipping of the Iraqi security forces,” according to Defense department spokesman John Kirby
June 10th, 2015 — President Obama announces plan to send 450 more U.S. troops to Iraq as advisers.