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Published On: Wed, Feb 25th, 2015

John Kerry describes campaign against ISIS as ‘weeks and weeks of combat’

Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the White House’s proposed ban on U.S. troops engaging in “enduring offensive ground combat operations” against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was clarified to mean “weeks and weeks of combat.”

Kerry made the comments Tuesday at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the State Department’s budget, defending the president’s proposal for an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS. He said some U.S. troops could be embedded with Iraqi troops overnight, but argued this would not be in violation of the ban on enduring ground offensive operations.

“If you’re going in for weeks and weeks of combat, that’s enduring. If you’re going in to assist somebody and fire control and you’re embedded in an overnight deal, or you’re in a rescue operation or whatever, that is not enduring,” Kerry said.
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The debate on a new authorization has heated up as the U.S. military prepares to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces attempt to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from ISIS by the end of May.

Pentagon officials have said that a limited number of U.S. military advisers could accompany Iraqi forces into battle to retake Mosul.

Kerry’s full slate of hearings before Congress this week reflects how the Obama administration will continue to repeat the message that “there is no military solution” to the world’s conflicts.

“We ask for 1 percent of the federal budget. One percent of the total budget of the United States of America goes into everything we do abroad,” Kerry said in the testimony Tuesday afternoon. “Well more than 50 percent of the history of this era will be written off that 1 percent and things we choose to do or not do.”

As he said in prior testimony Tuesday, “America must lead, but we cannot do so on the cheap.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, who told Defense One after his first hearing Tuesday morning: “You really mess with this budget now at your own peril, given the way the world is.”“I hope there’s an appreciation that this account funds the entire State Department — their embassy security, infrastructure — and that these programs outside of lethal force can make a difference,” Graham said.

Kerry added that the Obama administration is not asking “to build up to a new Iraq or Afghanistan.”

“That’s not what we’re doing,” he said, pushing back against “group troop” language:  there is “no way possible for this language … to allow for the kind of mission creep to take us into a longer war.”

About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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