Speaking yesterday at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joe Dunford confirmed that US troops in Iraq are “fighting and dying” in combat operations, confirming that the October 22 death of a Army sergeant was in combat.
That admission is a big one, as US officials have danced around the question of “combat troops” by presenting the troops being deployed to Iraq, and elsewhere in the region, as “trainers” or “advisers” in official comments.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R – AK) pushed particularly hard on the matter, saying he believes the attempt to present Iraq as “non-combat” diminishes the sacrifices of the soldiers slain in the country, and that it iss important to “level with the American people.”
The White House didn’t appear to take Gen. Dunford’s comments favorably, insisting again today that US troops in Iraq are “not in a combat role,” and are merely in the country to “offer advice and assistance” to the Iraqi military.
* * *