Should the U.S. Send in Ground Troops?

Evan McClure, Staff Writer

The United States and five Arab allies launched airstrikes on the night of September 22, on strongholds held by ISIL. This marked the official start of the US-led air campaign against ISIL in Syria. Those airstrikes in Syria were also being carried out in Iraq, which was first bombed by the US a month before. Several Arab countries’ air forces participated in the airstrikes, including Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. The attack was a combination of warplanes dropping bombs, unmanned aerial vehicles, and navy ships firing cruise missiles. President Obama stated that the air campaign against ISIL would likely last for a year or more, and that he doesn’t expect to put a swift end to further terrorism in the region in the years to follow.

The first problem with an extended air campaign in Iraq and Syria is that ISIL will use civilians as human shields as a deterrent against airstrikes. In the recent Israel-Gaza Strip conflict, Hamas used these human-shield tactics to prevent the Israeli artillery from responding to them. The second problem is that ISIL is still in control of large portions of Iraq and Syria, and will continue to enforce the Caliphate in these places. The next problem is that the borders are not secure, and foreign fighters from around the world are illegally crossing these borders to join ISIL. The last problem is that if the US only sends in drones, ISIL will continue to grow, even if they lose a few people, they’ll have a few others to replace them. They will not stop, ever, as long as the Caliphate is in control.

The best response to the problems and shortcomings of an only air campaign, is to send in ground troops. Soldiers can do things that a drone launching missiles can’t do, such as operating in an urban environment, attacking enemy positions in areas that planes can’t reach, collecting solid intelligence, and enforcing law and order in areas that ISIL may retreat from. That means sending in the US Army, Marine Corps, working with the Navy, and the Air Force, who are already operating in the region. The US formed a coalition of UN member countries, including: Canada, the UK, Germany, Turkey, and Australia. In a coalition, each country is stronger together, and this shared strength is what can defeat ISIL. The UK has already launched airstrikes into Iraq, and Turkey will work on closing breaches in their border. If the US at least sent in their Special Forces, then they could put a dent in ISIL.