Back in September, we reported on word out of Iraq suggesting that members of our military currently stationed in Baghdad were receiving mixed messages about the point and purpose of their mission:

Officials overseas are calling out the Obama Administration on their jumbled approach to current actions being taken against the Islamic State in Iraq. The current mission against ISIS calls for diplomatic protection in addition to airborne and humanitarian missions, and military leadership can’t get a clear read on just how far President Obama is willing to go to destroy (or shrink, he can’t decide) Islamic extremism.

Via Fox News:

Biden on Wednesday delivered what was probably the toughest statement to date from the administration, declaring, after another U.S. journalist was beheaded by the Islamic State, “we will follow them to the gates of Hell until they are brought to justice.”

But his tough talk was at odds with a message delivered earlier in the day by President Obama, who said that while his administration’s goal is to “destroy” ISIS — it also is to “shrink” it to a “manageable problem.”

Amid the mixed messages, a source in contact with special operators in Iraq told Fox News that “frustration and confusion reign” among Americans on the ground there.

The source relayed the complaint of an unnamed special operator: “Chase them to the Gates of Hell? How the [f—] are we going to do that when we can’t even leave the front gate of our base!?”

Since then, the messaging coming out of the White House has spiraled to the point where not even high-ranking members of Congress can agree (semantics aside) about the nature of America’s involvement in the Middle East.

Today’s Senate Armed Services hearing only added to the confusion of both military personnel and civilians when Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey put to bed once and for all the idea that “boots on the ground is not an option.”

Reuters reports:

At the White House and on Capitol Hill, Washington is preparing for war. The accelerated campaign against Islamic State militants will include more airstrikes in both Iraq and – for the first time – Syria. And despite President Obama’s repeated assurances of a “no boots on the ground” policy, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey told a Senate panel, things could change: “If there are threats to the United States, then of course, I would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”

And the the man appointed to lead the Global Coalition against Islamic State…is retired U.S. Marine Corps General, John Allen. He’ll be leading an effort that is already raising concerns among anti-war protestors ..and some Republicans who question whether it goes far enough. Either way, the stage is being set for yet more US intervention in a crisis overseas.

It’s time to demand straight answers from the White House. I appreciate Dempsey’s candor and his willingness to go against the White House narrative, but it’s not enough. The United States does not exist in a bubble; if the American people are confused, imagine how our less powerful allies feel. This is unacceptable: either ISIS is a threat, or it isn’t. Either it’s possible we’ll put boots on the ground, or it’s not.

It’s time to decide, and plan for the consequences.

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