Earlier today, U.S. President Barack Obama submitted a formal proposal to Congress asking them to authorize a three-year military campaign against the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL.
The President claims that his proposal, which would include some limited ground operations, would help the U.S. avoid a large-scale ground invasion and occupation.
The request is somewhat symbolic however, when you consider that the United States has been carrying out airstrikes on ISIS positions since last August. In the five months since then, the U.S. has carried out 1,900 airstrikes against ISIS, at an average daily cost of $8.4 million per day.
When he laid out his plan to fight ISIS last September, Obama stressed that the United States would avoid putting American “boots on the ground” at all costs.
Though his new proposal still forgoes the majority of ground operations, it does allow for the use of special forces for “rescue operations” and “to take military action against ISIL leadership.”
“If we had actionable intelligence about ISIL leaders and our partners didn’t have the capacity to get there, I would be prepared to order our special forces to take action because I will not allow these terrorist to have a safe haven,”
the President said in a statement.
Obama also said that his proposal would allow the use of ground forces for, “intelligence gathering, target spotting and planning assistance to ground troops of allies,” according to the New York Times.
In his letter to Congress, the President reiterated his previous contention that existing statutes give him with all the authority he needs to carry out his plan against ISIS (with or without Congress’s approval), but said that he would rather work with Congress to build bipartisan support for the operations against ISIS.
“I can think of no better way for the Congress to join me in supporting our nation’s security than by enacting this legislation, which would show the world we are united in our resolve to counter the threat posed by ISIL,”
This is the first time the President has formally requested authorization for a military campaign since he took office six years ago.