“This month, President Obama is making good on his promise to bring the last American troops home from Iraq in time for the holidays,” boasted the President’s website in 2011, preceding his “Osama is dead and General Motors is alive” victory tour of 2012.
Yet today, the world watches in horror as the consequences of an abandoned and unstable Iraq, now conquered by IS, unfold before our eyes. Tens of thousands of men, women, and children flee for their lives while others are mercilessly slaughtered for their beliefs – or lack thereof.
While many seem content simply to argue whether or not the US should have become involved in Iraq in the first place, such a discussion does absolutely nothing to solve the current crisis. The question is, will the world allow the appalling genocide which is engulfing Iraq, and the murderous thugs of IS, to continue unchecked, or will we recognize the grave danger thereof?
Nancy Pelosi, Secretary Hagel, and President Obama have repeatedly assured us over these last several months that despite the increasing violence, there would be no US involvement, “no boots on the ground” in Iraq. Recently however, they’ve authorized a number of airstrikes and sent a team of “advisors” to the country.
These “advisors” are US Marines and Special Forces personnel. Generally speaking, our military personnel don’t drop in to a war zone wearing flip-flops or moccasins. They wear boots. Big boots. Boots that take an incredible individual to fill. So unless we have our heroes suspended in mid-air using jet-packs to continuously hover around Iraqi airspace, these continued statements that we’ll have “no boots on the ground” are outright ludicrous.
These last few weeks, much of the media’s attention has been focused on the Yazidis who were trapped on Mount Sinjar by IS fighting and the humanitarian crisis created thereby. Most of the refugees have now escaped to safety in Syria. But early last week, the White House told us that they were considering an evacuation mission, and any troops we might send would not engage in combat.
This statement was perplexing, at best. What if our troops were attacked? The plan was, if shot at, they shouldn’t return fire? The US isn’t the strongest military force in the history of the world because we roll over and play dead. It’s because we fight to win.
Additionally troubling in our return to Iraq is the issue of Imminent Danger Pay (IDP). When our troops are sent into harm’s way, they are often eligible for an increase in pay while serving in a combat zone. Earlier this year, 20 areas where US forces are currently engaged were removed from IDP eligibility, but Iraq was not. However on June 20, 2014, Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby stated that because our forces returning to Iraq would not be engaging in combat, he did not anticipate them being eligible for IDP. Days later, he tweeted that they would be eligible.
— Rear Adm. John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) June 22, 2014
To summarize, what we’re being told about Iraq is that we’ll have no boots on the ground, in a non-combat zone, but we are sending “advisors” who may or may not be eligible for combat pay. Confused yet? You’re not the only one…
Last week I was contacted by an army wife who stated the “advisors” paychecks aren’t reflecting the IDP Admiral Kirby tweeted they would receive. My military contact serving in Washington, DC (who requested anonymity), also confirmed to me that IDP is not being issued to our troops currently serving in Iraq. Perhaps there’s a difference in IDP for Special Forces as opposed to other “advisors,” and maybe that’s where the confusion lies? But if we take IS at their word (and they’ve given us no reason not to), shouldn’t anyone currently serving in Iraq be classified as in harm’s way and eligible for IDP?
But issuing combat pay would inherently suggest that our troops (“advisors”) are back in combat in Iraq, which doesn’t bode well for the President’s approval ratings. Not only is this administration playing politics with people’s lives, now they’re playing politics with their paychecks, as well. Our troops deserve better.
IS is an imminent danger. They are a threat not only to the Middle East, but to the world. Our choice is to eliminate them there, now, or face them here, later.
It’s time for the President to act like the Commander-in-Chief. There’s no room for playing politics when sending our troops into harm’s way. Let’s empower our “advisors” rather than tie their hands. And while we’re at it, how about we make sure all those boots on the ground are getting the pay they deserve.
Do you know an “advisor” serving in Iraq? Are they currently receiving IDP? Leave your comments below or send more information to me at info @ krystalheath .com.