Albeit this article is two weeks old but you know it’s bad for the liberal establishment when even the New York Times calls out the Obama administration on its horse-manure definition of “war.” Most Americans with the maturity level above fifth grade understand that a member of the U.S. military, carrying a weapon, organizing combat against enemy forces in a foreign country constitutes “boots on the ground.” President Obama’s attempt to redefine words like “war” and “combat” would be comical were it not so insulting to the average person’s intelligence. Hypocrisy abounds too. Obama spent months finger-wagging and lecturing during two separate election cycles about the alleged despotism of the George W. Bush administration, yet unlike Bush who twice went before Congress for war resolutions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama acts on his sole unilateral authority (or rather lack thereof). And Obama’s supposed coalition of the willing (ever diminishing as the days go by) is far less in both size and cooperation than what the Bush administration organized. (And, how’s that Guantanamo closing going, Mr. President?) But, hey, things were different then so it’s acceptable. Back then, it was a Republican…
Mr. Obama, in his White House speech and again to troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., ruled it [American combat ground forces] out. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that if airstrikes failed to vanquish the militants, he would recommend it to the president.
The White House has tried to square these two statements by offering an extremely narrow definition of combat: American advisers could be sent to the front lines alongside Iraqi and Kurdish troops, and could even call in airstrikes, without directly engaging the enemy. It is a definition rejected by virtually every military expert.
“Calling in airstrikes is just as much combat as firing a rifle at someone,” said John A. Nagl, a retired lieutenant colonel who served in a tank battalion in Iraq and helped write the Army’s counterinsurgency field manual. “What that guy really is doing is painting a house with a laser designator that results in that house being vaporized.”
The American advisers are armed, and if they are shot at by the enemy, they are authorized to return fire. In a close combat advisory role in a city, experts said, the American troops would tell Iraqi commanders which house to hit, how much ammunition to use in an assault, and how to organize medical evacuation for their troops.
It is not the first time the United States has gotten tangled in semantics on this issue. In late 2008, before Mr. Obama was inaugurated, the Pentagon adopted a similarly narrow definition of combat to claim it was meeting a deadline for withdrawing combat troops from Iraqi cities by mid-2009. Then as now, it left behind hundreds of American trainers and advisers, who were helping Iraqis press the war effort.
“If you’re trying to deploy a military effect on the ground, you’re in combat,” said Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army general who helped train Iraqi troops and is now an adviser to the National Security Network. “You may not be in direct combat, but it’s a combat mission.”