The Corner

No Doubt About It — We’re Back in a Ground War in Iraq

President Obama’s stealth escalation of the war against ISIS continues. Now we’ve got artillery on the ground:

The Marine killed in an ISIS rocket attack in Iraq on Saturday was at the first American firebase that had only become operational a few days earlier CNN has learned.

The existence of the firebase had not been made public. The Pentagon had planned to acknowledge the firebase this week, a defense official tells CNN.

The rugged location for now has a “couple of hundred” Marines living in tents near Makhmour in northern Iraq. It’s assumed ISIS observed the Marines moving into the area and saw them firing practice rounds with their howitzers, the official said.

Apparently, the firebase will be used to support the Iraqi army’s advance on Mosul:

The Marines will be using their field artillery guns in the coming weeks to help defend Iraqi troops as they move towards Mosul. For now, the artillery is to defend another nearby base where American troops are getting 5,000 Iraqi forces ready for the operation to retake Mosul.

The Marines first began moving into the area just two weeks ago from their own base of operations aboard an amphibious assault ship the USS Kearsarge, the defense official told CNN.

To be clear, I wholeheartedly endorse escalating the fight against ISIS, and it’s critical to provide the support necessary to ensure victory in Mosul. Without much fanfare, Obama has dramatically reversed his Iraq policy — sending thousands of troops back in the country after he declared the war over, engaging in ground combat despite initially promising that his strategy “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Well, they’re on foreign soil, and they’re fighting.

Good. All is not yet lost in Iraq, and if we can — at long last — chase ISIS from Iraqi territory, then we will go at least partway towards undoing the damage caused by Obama’s premature withdrawal. For all his faults, at least Obama hasn’t committed the mortal sin of abandonment that doomed South Vietnam.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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