Two Major ISIS Developments

On the heels of last week’s White House announcement that the President was sending 275 U.S. troops to Iraq to provide security to U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy, today we’ve seen two major additional ISIS-related developments:

  • First, the Obama administration transmitted to Congress amendments to its FY2015 budget request for the DoD budget that includes a request “to authorize direct U.S. military training and equipment for Syrian opposition fighters.”  The Washington Post has more on the request that could “significantly escalate U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war.” The request is part of the new $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnership Fund that President Obama announced during his speech at West Point last month.
  • Then, in a letter to Congress, the President indicated to lawmakers that he does not need further congressional authority to send troops into Iraq to train, advise, and support Iraqi security forces and to establish joint operations centers with Iraqi security forces to share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the threat posed by ISIL.  It’s important to note, however, what the letter does not say: nothing is said of whether the administration is planning to use force and, if so, whether further authorization would be necessary.  The letter reads in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Speaker:

As I reported on June 16, 2014, U.S. Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

I have since ordered further measures in response to the situation in Iraq. Specifically, as I announced publicly on June 19, I have ordered increased intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance that is focused on the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). I also ordered up to approximately 300 additional U.S. Armed Forces personnel in Iraq to assess how we can best train, advise, and support Iraqi security forces and to establish joint operations centers with Iraqi security forces to share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the threat posed by ISIL. Some of these personnel were already in Iraq as part of the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Security Cooperation, and others began deploying into Iraq on June 24. These forces will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed.

This action is being undertaken in coordination with the Government of Iraq and has been directed consistent with responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.

Sincerely, BARACK OBAMA

 

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Thomas Earnest

Former Managing Editor of Just Security (2013-14) Follow him on Twitter (@thomasdearnest).