President Obama has repeatedly said that he won't send U.S. ground troops into combat missions against the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS). At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey was less emphatic:
My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true. But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I, of course, would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces. [Gen. Dempsey]
Asked about the seeming contradiction with Obama's no-combat-troops stance, Dempsey said, "He has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis."
White House spokesman John Earnest said that Dempsey isn't out of step with Obama, but that "it's the responsibility of the president's military advisers to plan and consider all the wide range of contingencies." Obama's anti-ISIS plan appears to have broad bipartisan support, even with Republicans arguing it doesn't go far enough and some Democrats wary of another military escalation in the Middle East. The first part of the plan, funds for arming Syrian rebels, should pass the House this week. --Peter Weber