“What you can be assured of… is that if the commander on the ground approaches me or the Secretary of Defense, and believes the introduction of special operation forces to accompany Iraqis or the new Syrian forces, if we believe that is necessary to achieve our objectives, we will make that recommendation,” Dempsey told the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
US President Barack Obama sent a draft war powers authorization (AUMF) to US Congress in February that prohibits the country’s armed forces from engaging in “enduring offensive ground combat operations” in Iraq and Syria.
Although the draft AUMF would not authorize an enduring US ground combat role, it would put local forces in Iraq and Syria at the forefront of ground combat operations against the Islamic State.
US military commanders have argued they need the flexibility to conduct the war against the Islamic State without being constrained by provisions prohibiting a limited US combat role to support the Iraqi and Syrian forces.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said at the US Senate hearing that sending US ground troops into Iraq and Syria to fight the Islamic State will “hinge upon what is required for success there.”
The AUMF draft follows US military operations against the Islamic State that began last summer in Iraq and Syria with airstrikes after the terrorist group seized large swaths of territory in Iraq. If passed by the US Congress, the AUMF would have a three year mandate.