By Richard Walker —
While the latest batch of troops earmarked for Iraq are being described as “advisers and trainers,” there is every likelihood that, contrary to what United States President Barack Hussein Obama has publicly stated, they will see action on the ground. That appeared to be the view of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey, who spoke at a Pentagon news conference on October 30.
But missing from Dempsey’s statement was the fact that a broader strategy for war is already in place across the Middle East where bases hold tens of thousands of American military personnel and hardware, all geared up for one purpose: war.
The reality is, a decade after the U.S. overthrew Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and occupied that country, the Iraqi military is still in such a mess no number of U.S. “trainers and advisers” will change that dynamic anytime soon. Therefore, more U.S. troops will be needed on the ground.
Seasoned Middle East reporter Patrick Cockburn, whose latest book is The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, offered a devastating critique of the Iraqi military whereby Iraqis bought their ranks in the military so that they could collect hefty paychecks from the U.S. military.
Cockburn was alluding to the fact that the U.S. committed over $4 billion to building the present-day Iraqi army that was recently routed by ISIS. Most of that money disappeared after Washington insisted it be spent through a privatized system using mercenary firms. There was no oversight.
Something else Dempsey neglected to tell the American public is that the strategy for a new war is moving ahead quickly.
For example, in just two bases in Qatar and Kuwait there are at least 25,000 American military personnel. In Qatar, approximately 10,000 run the Combined Air Operations Center at the al-Udeid Air Base. There are at least six classified bases in Israel housing special operations troops and stores of materiel for military operations across the region. In Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan there are other bases and many more in Iraq where the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad is the largest in the world.
An East European military source, who preferred to remain anonymous, told this reporter that he believed ISIS could only be defeated by the U.S. military going back into Iraq in large numbers.
“The writing is on the wall,” he said. “Iraqis and Kurds cannot defeat ISIS. The only nation with the military capability to do that is the U.S., and it has all the pieces in place. No one will say we are going to war, or we are at war. Those things happen gradually. At this stage it’s all smoke and mirrors, but war planners at the Pentagon are burning the midnight oil.”
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.