The United States will likely increase the number of combat troops on the ground in Iraq to fight the Islamic State but will stop short of launching a full-scale invasion, former Pentagon official Lawrence Korb told Sputnik.
On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the Pentagon does not rule out conducting ground attacks against the Islamic State.
“We have to step it [ground forces] up…but we are not going to cross the line and do anything like we did in 2003 [in Iraq],” Korb said on Wednesday.
Korb added that the US military already has special forces on the ground in Iraq and the Pentagon wants to enlarge that presence.
Carter wants to communicate the possibility of increases in ground forces before reports surface that make it look like a repeat of Iraq in 2003, Korb argued, especially considering full intervention is no longer politically feasible.
“Look, even the Republican presidential candidates do not support another invasion of Iraq.”
Commenting on reports the Pentagon might send Apaches to Iraq, Korb noted that attack helicopters would be helpful because they provide more accurate targeting than fighter planes for attacking ISIL positions.
On Wednesday, the US Central Command said it was unaware of any plans to boost ground forces in Iraq.
However, the Pentagon confirmed last week that a Special Operations team carried out a rescue mission with Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga counterparts near the town of Hawija in northern Iraq. One US soldier was killed during the raid.