President Obama announced at a White House press conference Thursday that the U.S. is “prepared” to send up to 300 U.S. military advisors to help the Iraqi government battle Sunni Islamists and take “targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.”
But he also stressed that there “is no military solution in Iraq — certainly not one led by the United States” and that “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq.”
The president again stressed this is a problem best solved “with partnership where local forces, like Iraqis, take the lead.” He also pushed Iraqi Shi’ite President Nouri al-Maliki to reconcile with estranged Sunni Muslim leaders and take steps to share power.
Reports indicate the military advisors likely being sent to Iraq are Green Berets, a special forces unit trained to operate like diplomats as much as warriors — an undeniable advantage in a confusing sectarian conflict.
The United States is already operating surveillance flights over areas of northern Iraq held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which each day advances closer to the capital of Baghdad.