Late on Monday afternoon, President Obama informed Congress that he will deploy 275 U.S. soldiers to watch over the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, as the terrorist group ISIS gains continues its offensive across Iraq. This news comes just days after hundreds of Americans were evacuated from the Balad Air Base, just north of Baghdad, and after President Obama declared that he wouldn't be sending "combat" troops into Iraq.
Earlier today, Obama sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy — as required by the War Powers Resolution — to announce the deployment:
Starting on June 15, 2014, up to approximately 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The letter added this explanation:
This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed."
In other words, this probably shouldn't be construed as a deviation from American policy. That isn't enough manpower to shutdown the militant's offensive, but with ISIS still making territorial gains as of earlier today, the precaution seems logical — even if the group hasn't succeeded in making real headway into Baghdad yet. Though, it goes without saying, the loss of American diplomats in Benghazi (and accusations that the government didn't do enough to protect them) casts a shadow over this development.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.