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Another 300 U.S. soldiers are off to Iraq. Is Obama starting to commit to boots on the ground?

Slowly but surely, Obama is beginning to commit U.S. military to the Iraq debacle, again. This out from Reuters:

The United States is ramping up its military presence in Iraq, deploying around 300 additional troops as well as helicopters and drone aircraft in response security concerns in Baghdad, officials said on Monday.

The decision announced by the Pentagon puts U.S. military personnel in a security role at Baghdad International Airport in the face of advances by an al Qaeda splinter group, three years after America’s military withdrawal.

As speculation swirls about whether President Barack Obama might authorize U.S. air strikes, a U.S. defense official said the moves were primarily focused protection of American personnel in Iraq, including civilians.

“This is not about (preparations) toward air strikes,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The recent surge (if it can even be called that) will now bring the total number of U.S. forces in and around Iraq to 800. Business Insider reports that…

Obama announced the deployment of additional forces in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the president pro tempore of the Senate. Obama said the additional forces will reinforce security at the U.S. Embassy, its support facilities, and the Baghdad International Airport.

Obama said the forces will be equipped for combat if necessary.

The new surge comes a little more than a week after Obama said he was ordering 300 “military advisers” to assist Iraqi security forces in stemming off Sunni militants, creeping the U.S. further back into a conflict zone Obama had exited just three years ago. The new personnel is separate from the 300 advisers already announced, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon said the additional personnel arrived in Iraq on Sunday, providing support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Obama said then in a statement from the White House that the U.S. will be prepared to take “targeted and precise” military action against insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) if the situation on the ground requires it. However, he stressed his moves did not preview a “mission creep” featuring more U.S. ground troops, and he continued to say that the only long-term solution in Iraq is a political one.

“American troops will not be fighting in Iraq again,” Obama said, later adding that the “fate of Iraq hangs in the balance.

Just a few years ago Obama was celebrating his historic withdrawal of troops from Iraq…that lasted long. Iraq is like a bad nightmare that simply will not go away.  Here’s Obama’s full letter sent Monday:

Obama War Powers Resolution Letter on Iraq

References:

http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-iraq-troops-war-isis-isil-2014-6

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/30/us-iraq-security-usa-military-idUSKBN0F52MQ20140630

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