As we head toward November mid-term elections, the writing is on the wall that the United States government is simply waiting out the domestic political situation until they can use military force, including troops on the ground, to battle ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Allied special operations forces are also preparing for this military action to take place.
U.S. SOF is already pre-positioned in Iraq and Jordan, but are currently in a holding pattern while they wait for the green light. Conventional wisdom has it that the White House is waiting until November elections before making a final decision, but this remains to be seen. Both Special Forces and OGA personnel are in Kurdistan, while other SOF elements are very active in Jordan. Thus far, the Jordanians have been aggressively fighting ISIS incursions along their borders, sometimes employing the use of Cobra gunships, and U.S. Ambassador Alice Wells has been very supportive of the SOF mission in Jordan.
With Naval Special Warfare elements also in Iraq, and other SOF elements forward-deployed and waiting to be sent to Baghdad at a moment’s notice, we’ve seen the chess pieces moving toward open war, even if the decision has not been formally made as of yet.
Meanwhile, Spain has deployed about 300 soldiers to southern Iraq, a third of which will work as instructors alongside host-nation counterparts. With Spanish involvement in Iraq seen as extremely controversial, the political pressure the U.S. and NATO have placed on the Spanish government must have been extreme. With Spanish SOF currently engaged in the Central African Republic, it is unclear if they will be re-deployed to Iraq.
Australia has been actively planning for war against ISIS and getting their special operations troops ready for combat on the ground. Mitchell McAlister writes,
“The Australian government has shown an unrelenting commitment from the very beginning to eradicate IS, and the sign-off on this legal framework was the last piece their operators were waiting for to move forward and begin doing what they do best. Defence has released very little as to what the ‘advise-and-assist’ mission will actually entail, but for those of us who have been exposed firsthand to these types of operations in Afghanistan, it will most likely follow a very similar pattern—providing the proverbial glue to patch Iraq’s unsophisticated army together into something which resembles a capable military force.”
Denmark’s special operations units, Jaegercorps and Frogmancorps, are also being prepared for deployment to the Middle East. The special operations units belonging to Norway and Italy are also in various states of preparation for deployment to Iraq or are already standing by. Norway’s prime minister is said to be hesitant, and the Italian government is also being cautious, even behind closed doors. Germany and Greece have both been sending weapons and/or ammunition to help the Kurds, but it is unknown if they have troops prepared for combat in Iraq.
Canada is also jocking up for war against ISIS. Jon Wade comments:
“The Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) is currently training to deploy more SF operators to Iraq. In my opinion, having a few CSOR teams with heavy gun trucks could greatly contribute to the success of the coalition against ISIS. As of today, 26 of them are already taking an advisory role with the Iraqi military. Other elements of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) could very well take part in the fight against ISIS if need be. However, CSOR has been working closely with foreign armies’ SOF, most notably African countries, to train them and get them fit to fight. The expertise they have acquired while being in Africa can be used to train the Iraqi soldiers.”
The Special Operations Forces of the Western world are prepared to respond, and the United States and allied nations are just waiting for their domestic political situations to align before blessing a direct military engagement with ISIS. However, the question we must ask ourselves is, are we being baited into a war? ISIS is quite clearly provoking the West intentionally and inviting us to attack them. The question is why, and if we take the bait, what are the repercussions?