ISIS

Iraq Vet Blasts Obama's Blurry 'Boots on Ground' Rhetoric

"You know those boots on the ground everybody's still discussing whether we should deploy? Well, they're already there."

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White House

President Barack Obama gave a speech at the United Nations earlier today to explain America's war against the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. CNN reports that "Obama reiterated … that U.S. boots on the ground will not be part of this fight," something the president has been adamant about in the days leading up to airstrikes. It's a claim that is completely bogus, charges Officer Clay Hanna, who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2008.

He writes for Politico:

I was once a pair of "boots on the ground," so I know a little about what the phrase means. And I can tell you that, listening to the back-and-forth between the White House and the Pentagon over who exactly we're sending to Iraq (and now possibly Syria), neither side is giving the American people the whole story. First of all, you know those boots on the ground everybody's still discussing whether we should deploy? Well, they're already there. We are already effectively engaged in combat in Iraq, in direct contradiction of what President Obama said when he announced he was taking action against the Islamic State terrorists, telling the American people in an address from the White House that the mission "will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil." He said pretty much the same when he told troops at MacDill Air Force Base: "The American forces do not and will not have a combat mission."

PEOSoldier, Foter

The other part of the Obama administration's strategy, to fund other rebel forces to fight ISIS, isn't a great idea either. Hanna claims, "The very same militias, still sworn enemies of the United States—the very men who tried to ambush and kill my men—will now be propped up by our training, weapons and leadership to heroically save their nation from an enemy they created. All in the interest of avoiding placing American 'boots on the ground.'"

Hanna points out that some 1,700 American military personnel are already in Iraq, and that to say that those "advisers, logistics managers and other troops" are not at war "on the ground" is a deceptive distinction without difference.

The same could be said of Secretary of State John Kerry's insistence that this potentially multi-year, multi-billion dollar campaign is a "very significant counterterrorism operation," but not a "war."

Notably, Obama's speech today also featured increasingly aggressive rhetoric against the Islamic State. It's so similar to the rhetoric Bush used during the Iraq War that Hanna participated in, it's virtually indistinguishable: Bush said, "We face a brand of evil, the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time in the world," and Obama says, "There can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil."

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  1. BOOOOSH!

    1. the one and only … wait.

    2. Aren’t four terms enough?

  2. Won’t matter. The press will say it’s OK, since he really had to do it and he ISN’T BUSH!

    1. More than that – Obama’s heroically cleaning up BOOSH’s mess.

      1. This is what kills me. We don’t have the same ideology? Fine, I respect your right to believe whatever you want. But, don’t demonize Bush for his post-9/11 invasions and then defend Obama because he is cleaning up the mess. Either it’s morally right to fuck people up because FYTW or it isn’t.

  3. Obama says, “There can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. … and that’s why I switched brands!”

    1. In blind taste tests, 4 out of 5 people prefer Wicked to Evil.

      1. I the ‘Axis of Wicked’ trademarked yet?

        How about Chimpy McObamahitler?

        1. I=Is

  4. Well…like we’re going to take the word of a baby-killer over that of the Smartest Man in the Universe?

    /progtard

    1. It’s not the principle that counts to good or bad, right or wrong, it’s the principal that determines the difference.

  5. “Officer Clay Hanna”

    ?

    That is how you would title a cop, not a military officer. He would go by his rank (ie. 2LT, 1LT, CPT, MAJ, LTC, etc – or you can use those goofy AP Style manual versions or write it out “Major” or such).

    1. His first name is Officer. Duh.

      1. Ah, so it is the usual Southern Way of going by all three names! “Billy Joe Johnston”, etc.

        *smacks forehead*

    2. You tell ’em Swiss.

    3. what was it last time? the overnight slaughter of a Russian Division?

      I don’t think Zenon should be blamed so much as… is there a Web editor? You’d think a nation ‘tired of a decade of war’ would have at least picked up some of the basics of military convention.

  6. and it absolutely will not stop until you are dead.

  7. And am I the only one that thinks this Khorasan Group thing is more likely an excuse to bomb some assets of Assad?

    1. “I’m sorry, Mr. Assad, but they took out your Google stock, your Microsoft Preferred Shares, and $15,000 in municipal bonds.”

    2. “Khorasan Group” is probably just a group of whacky Wahhabis that didn’t have good communications discipline. The war propagandists figured that it was a good story.

      1. My original thought was: “they are the assholes that keep toothpaste out of my carry on… Fuck ’em”

  8. If only some Iraq vets had blasted this use of “boots on the ground” by O!, on these very pages…

    1. Not me. I think everything is going to work out great this time. We have a wonderful plan, full-funding, and great leadership. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. You know, I never thought of it that way…you make a compelling argument.

      2. Where did you get that ppt summary from the Pentagon?!?!?!?!?!

      3. Nothing. It’s been known from the time of Sun-Tzu that half measures are the way to go when engaging in military conflict. I applaud our military leadership for bowing to this wisdom and not telling Obama to go fly a fucking kite.

        1. No American Commanding General has seriously refused a command since McClellan. (Except maybe Carter Ham who was relieved of his AFRICOM Command while the Benghazi Consulate was being attacked.) MacArthur came close but he helped create the mess in Korea.

          It’s well documented that the Joint Chiefs seriously disagreed with McNamara / Johnson’s stupid ideas for intervening in Vietnam but eventually obeyed.

          Only the politically savvy make General / Admiral these days. And the Administration holds their pensions as hostage to make sure even the most disgruntled go away quietly.

  9. Given the way this administration tortures language, my guess is that the DoD created a new division comprised of veterans who lost a leg to IED’s in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Yes, with this unique division, Obama is able to truthfully tell the nation that there are no “boots” on the ground. Because the Big Boot division can technically only have boot on the ground.

    1. They conduct enhanced interrogation on language; they definitely don’t torture it. What do you think this is, the Bush Administration?

    2. That is so fucked up. I still lol’d.

    3. Is there any reason they HAVE to wear boots?

      1. Maybe we could collect a brigade or so of soldiers on soft-shoe profiles and send them?

      2. The new combat foot gear is a lot more like a high top running shoe than a boot, so we’re changing the nomenclature to ‘hightops, advisor’

        /Pentagon J3/5/7

    4. Alternately, the CIA can be used like they were in Egypt during the “Arab Spring.”

      That’s “loafers on the ground,” not “boots!”

  10. There are former military guys on here. What do you think the average soldier/marine/sailor/airman thinks when he is told directly that “The American forces do not and will not have a combat mission”, or “no boots on the ground”, and they know it to be a total lie?

    1. I always assumed anything a Republican President said to be a half-truth at best. I assumed Democrats (I was in for part of Clinton’s Administration)) were lying 75% of the time. The other 25%, they were too ignorant to correctly spin a good lie. With Obama that may be reversed.

    2. It’s not a lie. They don’t have a mission in any real since of the word. They’re just there to shoot some shit and maybe get shot.

    3. Nothing worse than a politician.

    4. As Marines, we always excepted to be shoved into shitty situations by idiot leaders. Sleeping on a cot instead of the ground is considered a pleasant surprise.

      So I expect they’ll take it in stride and succeed in their local missions. They have to know it won’t make a damn bit of difference in the long run.

      1. That seems like it would be terribly demoralizing.

        1. It’s not about the national situation. It’s about the Marine left/right of you. Also, we have that high school football mentality of not wanting to let the old man down no matter how retarded it is to do a QB sneak on 3rd and 15.

          1. “It’s not about the national situation. It’s about the Marine left/right of you. Also, we have that high school football mentality of not wanting to let the old man down no matter how retarded it is to do a QB sneak on 3rd and 15.”

            This!

            Look – the military “boots” are often made up of folks from 18-24 year old. There is a good reason for this – even besides the physically fit part. We are not talking philosophers here, but folks hired as part of a group to perform duties based on chain of command.

            When the shit hits the fan, the duties are – as quote above – save your own ass and those of the guys and gals nearby.

            I’d say for more nuanced take on this, we’d talk to Ex-marines and soldiers who fought in Vietnam. At least they’d have the benefit of life experience afterwards as well as the life experience to put things in context.

    5. “What do you think the average soldier/marine/sailor/airman thinks when he is told directly that “The American forces do not and will not have a combat mission”, or “no boots on the ground”, and they know it to be a total lie?”

      Personally, I think what I’ve always thought: If it’s a politician, and his lips are moving, he’s lying.

      There have been “boots on the ground” in combat and in Iraq for several months now.

    6. No one cares really.

    7. “they know it to be a total lie?’

      What a joke!

      Now we have articles on Reason about what “an officer” thinks. Well, since many thousands of officers have been over there, why not get quotes from each and every one of them?

      This is what’s wrong with our present brands of media….he said this, she said that.

      BS.

      Let’s start with Vietnam. Anyone with a conscience over there (MILLIONS) soon knew that it was a LIE. They knew killing peasants, women and children and burning villages was a LIE.

      People here talk about how the gubment does everything at the point of a gun…and THEN they put credence in what an employee of the armed services says or does? Hint – they do stuff at the point of a VERY LARGE GUN.

      Why not just start and end with the basics. The government lies. The military lies. AND, for money, power, rank, peer approval, etc. you can get anyone to say anything anytime.

      Does that answer most questions?

      1. Typical shitlib hysteria.

      2. People here talk about how the gubment does everything at the point of a gun…and THEN they put credence in what an employee of the armed services says or does? Hint – they do stuff at the point of a VERY LARGE GUN.

        In other words, someone who works or ever worked for an organization should never do anything to criticize what that organization or its leaders are doing.

        Does that answer most questions?

        Considering your answers are hysterical progressive fluff, no.

      3. I keep thinking some day you will make a post that won’t be asinine. Not holding my breath.

        1. “I keep thinking some day you will make a post that won’t be asinine. Not holding my breath.”

          Hmm, you guys turn into warmongers almost instantly. Everything from defending the Raptor to “listening to the Generals on the ground”.

          Is it inexperience or fear which does not allow you to see things as they are?

  11. guy makes good point here

    “How can we stand up and call out Vladimir Putin for his deception in the Ukraine?for covertly using Russian soldiers and pretending they’re Ukrainian “separatists”?and at the same time say with a straight face that our “advisers” will not have a combat mission?”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazi…..z3EGYydHbG

    Despite this, he makes slightly-stupid point leading up to this by claiming that everything from “CIA Support for Mujaheddin” to “Reagan Selling Iraq Weapons” were similarly all ‘the same bullshit’.

    Its ok to think they’re all ‘bullshit’; but they’re certainly not the same as the above ‘advisors not playing an actual ‘combat role'” lie.

  12. more in ‘mixed metaphors’

    “The last thing we want is another Mogadishu?think Blackhawk Down?and you can bet that the Islamic State’s main objective in Syria will be to embarrass us when we overreach and shame us when we miss and kill kids.”

    The ‘another Mogadishu’ would be ‘claiming your mission is to ‘help native people’ but then have them drag your dead soldiers through the streets’, making your mandate look ridiculous…

    …killing kids? I think that was more of a ‘Vietnam‘ thing.

    1. After the Marines left with their armor, we only had light infantry in Mogadishu. The Army repeatedly requested tanks and was repeatedly denied by Les Aspin.

      1. Ok.

        ?

        My point was this dudes ‘warnings’ about a ‘another Mogadishu’ seemed to actually misconstrue what is meant by ‘what went wrong’ there.

        he doesn’t say that ‘Blackhawk Down’ happened because “we didn’t have tanks”

        He suggests that ‘airpower alone will result in excess collateral damage’…

        then compares that to “Mogadishu”. Which isn’t what happened there – or isn’t what people get upset about.

        No one really argues that the problem with the “Blackhawk Down” scenario was that we ‘shot too many people’. Or ‘kids’.

        They argue that ‘our guys on the ground’ were left hanging out to dry. And got their bodies dragged through the streets.

        My point is that he’s tossing out an misguided analogy. i.e. ‘Blackhawk down’ isn’t a reference to “excess collateral damage”.

        1. Also, by an real metric of success the soldiers in Mogadishu won that battle.

          It was the political side that lost the stomach.

  13. fwiw, reading the whole piece, the guy seems fairly gung ho about the idea of an actual ‘full blown war’; just not so mcuh this half-assed, rhetorical approach that Obama is taking. ‘Shit or get off the pot’ seems to be the theme.

    Is Reason trying to sell this guy as being “anti-war”? I can’t tell. It seems that way in the context it is presented.

    1. The military blogs seem to have the Shit or get off the pot split too. They all know a half-ass bombing campaign won’t do shit.

      Some think it worthwhile to reengage their in a big way. Others, like me, think we are being baited and should just stay out.

      1. *Some think it worthwhile to reengage their in a big way. Others, like me, think we are being baited and should just stay out.*

        Re-engage with nukes. Already bought and paid for, just collecting dust & rust.

      2. We tried the “Shit” part already. For 9 years. It didn’t work. The second we left, it fell apart.

        So, you can do one of three things.

        1. Reinvade and commit to occupying the country indefinitely.
        2. Take off and nuke the site from orbit.
        3. Stay the fuck out of the affairs of other nations.

        1. You forgot option, which is what the plan is:

          4. Conduct a small bombing campaign cause the polls said something needs to be done and let the next guy clean up this mess while taking credit for doing something knowing full well the media will depict you as the smarter second coming of General MacArthur in terms of strategy until they get bored with it and things turn badly like your much vaunted surge into Afghanistan which they forgot about as it failed and Afghanistan falls apart too and now seems to have fallen off the planet and is never reported on, a sort of black hole of nothingness racists who failed to live up to the Light Bringers amazing battle strategy and incredible rhetoric….or something like this….

          1. “Conduct a small bombing campaign cause the polls said something needs to be done and let the next guy clean up this mess”

            And this is perhaps always the ONLY option, really.

            Folks here who thing our POTUS really has control over this stuff are missing the basics. The Military Industrial Complex speaks and the government listens. They need to use that Raptor crap so they can say it was worthwhile (it’s the biggest boondoggle in history, but has enriched many).

            Think of the jobs!

            The cost of each of these sorties has to be off the charts.

            If I had my choice, I’d pick #3. But the USA doesn’t work that way. It’s about using up stuff so more can be made.

            As to the problems over there, I think it’s accurate to say that one war has been going on since 1989 or so (Gulf War)….and it even could be stretched to back to 1948 or so (Israel formation)…

            It’s not going to end now or be cleaned up by anyone. Likely, Iran will eventually arise as a super-regional power and along with the Saudis decide that relative peace is better for business.

            1. Raptors aren’t a boondoggle.

              Your a fucking idiot.

              There are a billion reasons why, but mainly because you are saying a 5th generation fighter has to be used to bomb ISIS so the Pres had to do it.

              1. “but mainly because you are saying ”

                I am saying that being able to us and then declare success with this 400 BILLION dollar boondoggle is part of the PR movement to make us swallow whole the Military Industrial Complex.

                Do you make money from this stuff? If so, you have no right to opine on it. And, oh, if you – like many here – lament the gubment taking our money at the point of a gun for this crap, you should also refrain from promoting it.

                http://gerarddirect.com/2013/0…..peasement/

                Please don’t try to fool me. I know personally how Lockheed spends a lot of that money – stuff like hiring future up and coming pols with NO experience so they have them on their side as they advance.

        2. “We tried the “Shit” part already. For 9 years. It didn’t work.”

          So are you saying the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Petraus and all those other generals and admin officials LIED.

          Wow. This is a big story. Call the NYT.

          1. No, they didn’t fucking lie, you imbecile.

            1. The Intel was wrong.
            2. A sovereign nation having WMD is not grounds for preemptive war.
            3. You cannot force people to do that which they do not want to do.

            Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were morons, not liars. But you are too fucking stupid to distinguish the difference.

            1. +1

              Also, they didn’t soapbox for a bunch of things they were to unprincipled to follow through on. Such as:

              No more war.
              Transparency.
              Limiting the AUF.
              Congress should authorize war (but only in context of bombing Syria prior to 2014)
              Enjoy your Dr!

            2. Rummie will go down in history as the frontrunner as the worst wartime SecDef in history. The problem is not that he made incorrect decisions at the start of the war- every nation in every war makes bad decisions. The side that wins takes actions to correct their mistakes. His problem is that he would not correct issues raised by his decisions. Whether it was initial troop levels for the invasion, equipping the troops, the number of troops to occupy a nation, ignoring reports from the field that an insurgency was starting etc etc. He ignored them all. I spent multiple tours there and the difference of being there under Rummie and Gates was night and day. Rummie found the war a distraction and Gates as an imperative.

              1. And to the question. If POTUS believes a war is required then go to the Congress,make your case and ask for a vote. I don’t think the Iraqi’s deserve the life of a single more American grenadier. But he can ask Congress.

                If you are going to fight, then fight to win. This plan can’t win. It will waste a metric shit ton of money, kill Americans and be unsuccessful with the harmful results of that. We are already at a point where our friends and allies don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us. I thought it can’t get worse- but after this half-ass approach it will.

                1. “If you are going to fight, then fight to win”

                  You are assuming they want to win. Why win when you can expend trillions in military hardware and personnel costs and then make more of the crap? There is absolutely no financial impetus to “win” as long as we can keep the US Body Count low. i.e. Americans don’t care much about millions of others dying…..they are not “equal” to us in value as human beings.

                  “And to the question. If POTUS believes a war is required then go to the Congress,make your case and ask for a vote”

                  Academic Point. Even GW didn’t get a declaration of war. Could you inform us to when the last real one was? My guess is WWII.

                  If you think the current Congress would not authorize war, I’d ask you to check the recent votes.

                  They are chickenshit and they like the military contracts more than anyone! The status quo suits them just fine because they get some level of plausibility.

                  You are all making the mistake of thinking there are good intentions involved. I lived for 25+ years in an area where Lockheed Martin controlled everything from politics to employment. I can assure you it’s more about yachts, pensions, porsches, etc. – with a smattering of naked women and men (some are gay, of course!) – as in Lords of War.

                  If you want to understand our propensity for constant war, just memorize the quote:
                  “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

                  1. First. It is not an academic point. The last declaration of “war” by the Congress was in 1944 against some minor co-belligerents in Europe. However, Bush asked for and received authorizations for the use of military force against AQ and Iraq. The Nobel Peace Prize winner thumbs his nose at asking for the required authorization, by whatever name and limitations imposed, from Congress. Second. Of course I did not value Iraqi lives as much as American. I was a soldier fighting an enemy. The entire Iraqi population from top to bottom and from young to old was the battlefield. My job was to crush the enemies ability to, and willingness for, engaging in combat. That means you target the entire population. Some targets got bullets, others food/water, schools,jobs, or whatever was required to bring security. You use the desire for the “average Ibraham” for security as your leverage to remove the populations support for the insurgency and then you kill the insurgents and their remaining supporters. The Iraqis were my targets, the Americans my charge to care for. At to the below comment. Since I served for 30 years, I called myself a professional soldier and I respected the civilian control of the US military.

            3. “Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were morons, not liars. But you are too fucking stupid to distinguish the difference.”

              Actually, instead of being a PARROT for them like you are and repeating talking points I did a bunch of reading – from people who were there.

              They lied. Often. On purpose. They lied, mislead and manipulated well before it ever started – to make it start.

              If you think they were honestly worried about our national security it’s not even worth a debate.

            4. I’d prefer a liar– although Bush et. al. were both morons and liars. Bill Murray famously said of the army that they were 10-1. I’d go so far as to say we’re now 10-2. I say deservedly so. What’s that say about the people that fought for the worst secretary of defense in history? You guys signed up to fight for liars that were morons. What’s that make you?

              1. “You guys signed up to fight for liars that were morons. What’s that make you?”

                Maybe poor.
                Maybe patriotic
                Maybe too young to know better
                Maybe Naive
                Maybe violent

                Could be a lot of reasons. The military offers many in this country opportunities that are not available elsewhere….which is part of the reason libs like me say we need those opportunities for young and poor folks who don’t put on the uniform too.

                Let’s face it. People are sheeple. Libertarians like to fool themselves by thinking they actually “reason” about issues – but all I’ve seen here is the usual right wing crap other than a tiny big of legalize it.

                Words are cheap. What matters is what decisions are made when the chips are down. I remember back when the war drums were beating – it was as clear as day that the whole thing was a total lie! Heck, they were talking about about justifying it because a piece of a missile might be buried in someone’s backyard garden!

                I suspect that many with libertarian tendencies were cheering at certain points back then…..when the bombs started falling. Yeah, I know, some didn’t – but I’ve been to a lot of anti-war protests and I know many in the orgs that fight against war, and they (libertarians) seem to be absent. Maybe they were too busy Kochsucking or helping the Pauls with their robes on?

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