U.S. gets involved with ISIS

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Alex Stogin, Business Manager

 

Last week the United States increased its involvement against the Islamic State (ISIS). On Oct. 22 U.S. Special Forces, in coordination with Kurdish forces, raided a makeshift jail in the northern Iraqi town of Hawija.

The goal of the raid was to rescue 70 Iraqis who were faced with “imminent mass execution” according to Kurdish officials. As reported by Pentagon, the raid was successful in freeing the hostages, gained the U.S. a “swath” of intelligence and resulted in the capture of five ISIS members.

The raid also resulted in the tragic death of Joshua Wheeler, one of the U.S. soldiers involved in the operation. His death highlights the risk U.S. personal face in this battle against ISIS.  Wheeler’s death sparked criticism about this mission going against President Obama’s policy of “no boots on the ground” in this fight against ISIS.

The Pentagon was quick to defend the mission as a unique situation that required the U.S. to act. According to Politico, the mission was approved by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and was in line with current policy regarding the fight against ISIS.

The Obama Administration has reassured that U.S. troops will not have a combat role in the region, but Special Forces operations will continue along with humanitarian rescues and counter terrorism operations. A similar raid occurred in Syria last May in order to kill a senior ISIS official and lead to the capture of his wife.

For now, the main role of the U.S. will be to lead its coalition in airstrikes against the group and continue to train and advise Iraqi security forces on how to engage ISIS. For the past year the U.S. has been involved in this way and has seen varying results.

Initially Iraqi forces continued to retreat and lose territory to ISIS but in recent months they have been much more successful according to BBC News. In a very slow process the Iraqi forces have been reclaiming territory in the south while the Kurds continue to push from the north.

It’s been largely a battle of attrition, as evidenced by the disputed Baiji oil refinery, which the Iraq government said it reclaimed, contrary to reports from Sunni rebels, according to an Al Jazeera report.

While the U.S. currently does not plan on putting boots on the ground, news of Russian forces setting up a military base may cause greater U.S. involvement in that nation.

No one is certain of what course the U.S. may take in response to an increased Russian presence, but for now President Obama maintains his stance that we will not put troops in a combat role in either nation.