Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tried to clarify her position on deploying United States ground troops to fight Islamic State terrorists during a press conference on Thursday morning, but it remains unclear.
During the NBC presidential Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday evening, Matt Lauer questioned Clinton about how she planned to defeat the Islamic State.
“We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we’re not putting ground troops into Syria,” Clinton said. “We’re going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops.”
Clinton ignored that President Obama has American troops on the ground in both countries, particularly Special Forces that have run combat operations against the terrorist group.
During her press conference Thursday, Clinton tried to explain exactly what she meant about ground troops:
I’ve been very clear, and I said this again last night: I support the air campaign. I support Special Forces. I support enablers. I support surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance. I will absolutely be prepared to do whatever is necessary to support the Arab and Kurdish fighters on the ground to take out as much of the infrastructure of ISIS from the air, to go after Baghdadi, as I said today, with a very focused commitment to taking him off the battlefield. I think the approach I’ve outlined intensifies what we are doing, but also recognizes that there is no, in my opinion, path forward to ground troops that would be in our interests.
Clinton’s line is similar to President Barack Obama’s position on the issue. After repeatedly reassuring Americans that he would not send ground troops into Iraq and Syria, Obama reversed his position.
Approximately, 3,700 U.S. troops are currently deployed on the ground in both countries to fight the Islamic State, although Pentagon officials have refused to reveal the exact numbers.
When pressed on the issue by reporters, the White House suggests that Obama remained opposed to a large scale combat ground force similar to the one deployed during the George W. Bush administration, and that most of the soldiers deployed overseas are in an advisory and support role.
Marine Staff Sergeant Louis F. Cardin was killed by Islamic State terrorists firing rockets into a U.S. base in Iraq in March 2016.
In May, the Islamic State killed Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles Keating IV, a Navy SEAL, in Iraq.
Islamic State fighters also wounded four U.S. military advisers in June.