'A Boot Is a Boot': Hegseth Explains What 'Boots on the Ground' Really Means
President Obama has repeatedly stated that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground in the fight against ISIS, but during a Senate hearing today on Capitol Hill, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey appeared to make comments to the contrary when he was asked about what might compel U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq.
“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward," Dempsey said today.
"I believe that will prove true, but if it fails to be true and there are threats to the United States, I would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of military ground forces.”
Pete Hegseth appeared on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson today and said that Dempsey certainly opened the door to U.S. combat troops on the ground, but that we already have troops in Iraq and need to end the political debate over "boots on the ground" to focus on defeating ISIS.
Hegseth added that there have been reports that behind closed doors, military officials have already made this recommendation to the president.
Hegseth said that we want the Iraqis and Kurds to take the lead in the fight, in addition to bringing in regional Sunni Muslim forces, but U.S. personnel advising - and possibly pulling triggers - will likely be necessary to truly take the fight to ISIS.
"Dempsey is saying what everyone in the Pentagon has been thinking and, I think, laying the groundwork for what might be an expanded role," Hegseth said.
Hegseth illustrated the point of U.S. boots on the ground with some helpful props: the actual footwear of U.S. military personnel.
For example, according to Hegseth, standard-issue combat boots, like those worn by the bulk of American forces, are not the boots that could be called to Iraq - at this point - while those of a special operator could be.
According to Hegseth, the point is that "a boot is a boot," the U.S. already has 1,600 troops on the ground in Iraq and we need to end the rhetorical tap-dancing about "boots on the ground" and get down to the serious business of building a coalition to take out ISIS.
Watch the clip from The Real Story above.