While you were sleeping: Pentagon moved ground troops into Libya
The Pentagon admitted that a "small number" of U.S. troops are on the ground fighting ISIS in Libya, supporting operations of local forces fighting the terrorists.
"As with any military operation supporting another force, coordination and synchronization of effort is essential. To that end, a small number of U.S. forces have gone in and out of Libya to exchange information with these local forces in established joint operations centers, and they will continue to do so as we strengthen the fight against [ISIS] and other terrorist organizations," said Deputy Defense press secretary Gordon Trowbridge.
Those forces are based in joint operations rooms, away from the forward line, to facilitate coordination among Libyan forces fighting ISIS, he said.
The Pentagon announced on Aug. 1 that it had expanded its air war against ISIS into Libya, where its fighters have established a foothold in Sirte.
At the time, defense officials said there were no U.S. forces on the ground supporting the air operations, but did not deny there were U.S. forces on the ground there.
The acknowledgement came after The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that U.S. special operations were "providing direct, on-the-ground support for the first time to fighters battling" ISIS in Libya.
"I can tell you those [reports] are not true," said Trowbridge. "They are not on the front lines, nor are they on the ground in Sirte."
Rather, he said, those forces are providing "unique capabilities."
"Notably intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and precision strikes — that will help enable GNA-aligned forces to make a decisive, strategic advance," he said.
"These strikes are targeting key ISIL military infrastructure such as tanks, high-caliber weapons, and command and control nodes using precision ordnance," Trowbridge said, using another acronym for ISIS.
Whether or not the troops are on the "front lines" is a matter of semantics. If special forces are assisting in "precision strikes" on tanks and artillery, they must be close enough to the front to laser the targets for the advanced missiles and smart bombs used in the strikes. That certainly puts them in harm's way.
But the point isn't that there are a few ground troops in Libya. The point is that the president has once again taken us to war without congressional consent. It's not even a question whether we should be trying to take down ISIS in Libya. We should. But can we please follow the constitutional niceties in doing so?
That poor document has been shredded, folded, spindled, and mutilated over the last eight years. I suppose it's too much to ask the president to at least give lip service to its contents.