'It Would Be Benghazi on Steroids': U.S. Weighing More Troops to Protect Baghdad Green Zone
A senior U.S. official tells Fox News that the Pentagon is considering sending up to 300 troops back to Iraq, one day after the brutal beheading of an American journalist by ISIS. The report comes as U.S. airstrikes intensify against ISIS targets, totaling 84 since Aug. 8.
Though the militants who executed Foley framed the brutal beheading as retaliation for American airstrikes, the administration gave no indication Wednesday that it was dialing back.
President Obama, speaking from Martha’s Vineyard where he's on vacation, responded to the online posting of the beheading video by calling for a “vigilant” and “relentless” effort against the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
The president said the video of Foley's death "shocks the conscience," while vowing to continue the fight against the organization which has taken root across swaths of Iraq and Syria. He called for a "common effort" across the Middle East to "extract this cancer so it does not spread."
The Defense Department reported Wednesday afternoon that U.S. aircraft have conducted another 14 strikes near the Mosul Dam, which Kurdish and Iraqi forces recently re-took from Islamic militants. The latest strikes took out militants’ Humvees and other targets.
A senior U.S. official also told Fox News that military planners are weighing the possibility of sending more American forces to Iraq mainly to provide additional security “in and around Baghdad,” at the request of the State Department.
The official said the Pentagon is seriously considering sending fewer than 300 personnel, but there has been no final decision yet.
Critics, however, point out that the mission in Iraq has no name and no real strategy overall. Gretchen Carlson discussed the latest developments with Navy Capt. Chuck Nash (Ret.), who explained that the additional troops would likely be used to fortify security around the Green Zone in Baghdad.
"The fact that this is the operation that has no name is a little bit silly because we're conducting combat operations there," said Nash, adding that he's also bothered by President Obama's reluctance to say what the U.S. is doing in Iraq.
"Lives are at risk. Lives are being taken. It's time to stop the politics of, 'I said we were leaving, we left, so therefore we can't be going back' even though we're sending troops back. This looks silly and in our enemy's face, it looks cowardly," he said.
Nash does not believe the possible new troop deployment is a response to the beheading. He said Americans in Baghdad are becoming concerned about the worsening situation.
"They don't want another Benghazi because this would be Benghazi on steroids," said Nash, referring to the prospect of ISIS attacking the Green Zone.
Watch his analysis above.