Since American airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) have had little success, a growing chorus of officials says troops on the ground may be needed to fight this war. Whose troops, though? An exclusive report from Foreign Policy today suggests that the Obama administration wants the U.S. and its NATO allies to bear the burden of retraining Iraq's military to fight ISIS.
Citing information from "a person familiar with joint assessments by the American-led coalition and the Iraqi government," the publication explains:
The expanded retraining effort being proposed by the U.S. may require asmany as 1,000 foreign trainers from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Australia to restore the beleaguered Iraqi security forces to a battle-ready state led by American advisers, said the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made. The U.S. already has about 1,500 advisers in the country, and Western European allies have signalled their ability to send hundreds of trainers each, the person said. …
The U.S. is hoping that many of the NATO members will readily consent to sending their troops to train Iraqi forces particularly after troubling revelations that citizens from Western Europe and Australia are both victims and participants alongside ISIS.
It's important to remember that America is already the largest supplier of both military personnel and funding for NATO, so it's likely that the U.S. will be doing most of the heavy lifting in Iraq.
In a related article Foreign Policy yesterday reported that in spite of the State Department's claim that about 60 nations are participating in the coalition against ISIS, there are only 21 "core coalition members" and a meeting yesterday "produced no immediate announcements of new commitments."
It appears America's allies don't want to become too tangled in this war. Although ISIS is closing in on the Syrian-Turkish border, Turkey, a NATO member, hasn't sent troops against ISIS out of fear of "being made the fall guy for the United States not having a coherent Syrian policy," according to Reuters.
Britain and France have launched airstrikes, and Germany has committed to funding moderate rebels to fight ISIS, but "getting their parliaments to approve sending ground troops into a warzone to train Iraqi forces is likely to be enormously complicated."