Pentagon: No mission creep in Iraq

A Pentagon spokesman on Wednesday dismissed the idea that increasing the number of United States troops inside Iraq signals mission creep.

“Mission creep means that the mission itself, the objectives change over time, they expand. It doesn't refer to intensity of operation. It doesn't refer to the number of troops,” Rear Adm. John Kirby said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”  

“These extra personnel are going to go in to provide additional security assistance in and around Baghdad, particularly around our embassy facilities, and that's all they are going to be doing,” Kirby explained. “It's going to be security and defensive work just to help protect our diplomats and our civilians that are working there in Baghdad.” 

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Late Tuesday, the White House announced that President Obama had authorized the deployment of 350 additional U.S. troops to Baghdad, raising the total in Iraq above 1,000. 

Obama has repeatedly said, however, that no U.S. boots will be on the ground in Iraq. Since early August, the U.S. military has launched more than 110 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inside Iraq.  

Kirby said the Defense Department is still working on a comprehensive strategy to stop ISIS in Syria, but reiterated there isn’t a U.S. military solution for Iraq or Syria.

The beheading of a second U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff, hasn’t changed the mission either, Kirby said.

“There hasn't been a specific change with respect to the tragic murder of Mr. Sotloff yesterday, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, of course. But there's been no change,” he said.

Members of Congress, who return to Capitol Hill next week, have been pointing to Sotloff’s murder and the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley as reasons for President Obama to expand the U.S. response to ISIS to Syria.