As recently as last week, the Obama administration seemed dead set against getting involved with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. But with the militants of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria still encountering little resistance as they threaten to overtake the country, it seems increasingly likely that the United States will be compelled to do something to help the Iraqi government fight the Sunni extremists. On Friday, as he vowed that American troops would not be sent back to Iraq, President Obama acknowledged that he was considering a “range of other options that could help support security forces” there. Over the weekend, a United States aircraft carrier and two other warships arrived in the Persian Gulf. And, on Monday, the Associated Press reported that the White House might send “a small number of American special forces soldiers” to Iraq.
Though the United States withdrew from Iraq three years ago, American Special Forces have returned on missions to train Iraqi troops both outside and inside of the country. According to one official who spoke to the AP, this potential new mission would be small — only up to 100 Special Forces troops would participate — and would consist of “non-operational training, ” meaning that the soldiers would stay on military bases to “work closely with Iraqi forces that are fighting the insurgency but not officially be considered as combat troops.” Meanwhile, another official told the AP that 100 Marines and Army soldiers have been sent to secure the American embassy in Bagdad.