Lawmakers see ISIS war ‘mission creep’

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A bipartisan pair of lawmakers are worried that President Obama’s recent decision to deploy 217 more forces to Iraq to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is mission creep. 

“Yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. will deploy more than 200 additional troops to Iraq to assist in the fight against ISIL is textbook mission creep,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. 

{mosads}Lee was Congress’s lone dissenter in granting then-President George W. Bush authority to go to war in Afghanistan. 

A similar reaction came a day before from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), a Vietnam War veteran and former prisoner of war. 

“While the deployment of an additional 217 U.S. troops to fight ISIL is welcome, this is yet another example of the kind of grudging incrementalism that rarely wins wars, but could certainly lose one,” he said, using another acronym for ISIS. 

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Monday announced the U.S. would deploy an additional 217 troops to Iraq, bringing the total number in Iraq to more than 4,000. 

U.S. troops will be able to fly Apache helicopters to support Iraqi forces in the battle to retake Mosul as well as employ mobile ground artillery rocket systems. 

U.S. troops would also be allowed to embed with Iraqi forces at the battalion and the brigade level as they head out into the field. Previously they were only allowed to embed at a headquarters division level. 

Lee and McCain oppose the incrementalism for different reasons — Lee out of concern the U.S. will get sucked into a deeper war, and McCain out of concern troops aren’t being deployed in a way that will win the fight.

However, both believe the strategy is poorly constructed and could lead to defeat. 

“We cannot continue to underwrite an ill-defined and dangerous mission against ISIL with little to no debate or authorization from Congress,” said Lee. 

“The American people deserve a serious discussion about the costs and consequences of endless war,” she added.  

McCain, for his part, has demanded answers about the ISIS strategy from the administration in a letter sent to Carter earlier this month. 

“As a young military officer, I bore witness to the failed policy of gradual escalation that ultimately led to our nation’s defeat in the Vietnam War,” McCain wrote in the April 5 letter. 

“Now as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I fear this administration’s grudging incrementalism in the war against the Islamic State (ISIL) risks another slow, grinding failure for our nation,” he added.  

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