, The Washington Free Beacon
The military’s role in Iraq has been much in the news over the last 24 hours.
The Obama administration’s confusion and ambivalence over whether or not the current bombing and advising in Iraq and Syria actually constitutes a war (I’ll bet the pilots dropping bombs on people think it does) apparently extends to the Pentagon. As the Hill reported:
The troops President Obama has deployed to Iraq are not eligible for certain medals because the U.S. has not officially designated their efforts a military campaign.
The more than 1,600 troops who are serving as “advisers” cannot receive the Iraq Campaign Medal, which is reserved for troops deployed between March 19, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2011, defense officials say.
Nor are they eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary or Service medals, which are only awarded to troops supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, originating with the 2001 Afghanistan War.
This may be a bureaucratic lapse as much as an intentional or politicized move. Troops serving in Iraq generally fell under the umbrella of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which is now defunct, while those fighting terrorism elsewhere came under Operation Enduring Freedom, which is ongoing. Since whatever is going on in Iraq right now technically falls under neither operation, no one there is eligible for a campaign medal of any sort.
Now that the press and veterans groups are paying attention to this, I anticipate that the problem will be fixed–though it may be interesting to see exactly how. Will the White House sign off on extending the designation of the ‘Global War on Terrorism’ medals, considering that it is ideologically opposed to half of the words in the medals’ name?
It also appears that the Marine Corps–ever eager to be in a fight–is forward deploying more troops to the Middle East to be on hand for a crisis. I expect that most Marines, being Marines, are pleased about this (though less so about the likelihood that this forward-deployment will consist of six months of watching pirated movies on their laptops in the desert near some notorious party town like Doha) but there are always exceptions. A truly bizarre example can be read at Tom Ricks’ blog, where he has a guest post from a young Marine officer who appears to be not only a conscientious objector but also a conspiracy theorist who believes that the ISIS beheading videos might be fakes. Seriously: read it for yourself.