United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has announced that the United States will deploy an “expeditionary targeting force” to Iraq. The news comes amid reports that the United States has been maintaining Special Operations forces in Iraq for the past several months. Carter did not reveal how many troops would be sent to Iraq.
These specialized United States forces are supposedly being sent to the Middle East in order to assist Iraqi, Kurdish and Peshmerga forces and to “contain” the Islamic State. The Special Operations troops will be used to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture leaders of ISIS. Any raids that are conducted will likely done in conjunction with the Iraqi government.
Former defense assistant of the Obama administration Robert Martinage said, “The goal is to start a chain reaction of intelligence-driven raids that increase in frequency and expand in scope over time. The metric becomes can you disrupt and dismantle the network faster than the enemy can repair and regenerate it.”
This method of multiple intelligence-driven raids has been used by the United States in the past. It was this same technique that was used in 2011 that eventually brought down Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. Overall, hundreds of raids were conducted during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, many suspect that the ultimate goal of this deployment is to weaken Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The process of “containing” ISIS is merely a secondary goal. It seems as though the United States military wants to let ISIS stick around just long enough for the terrorist organization to put pressure on Assad so that the United States can ultimately force him out of power.
While both ISIS and the United States want to defeat Assad, the United States does not want to let ISIS become too powerful, or else the terrorist group might start seizing large portions of Syria. Still, the major goal of the United States has always been to take down Assad. Bringing down Assad is even more important than stopping ISIS, although the United States will not admit to that.
So for now, the United States will work on keeping ISIS from becoming too strong, while still focusing heavily on Assad. Americans had better get used to an increased presence of troops in Iraq because it does not appear that they will be leaving any time soon.