WASHINGTON — Until now, the Obama administration has insisted that the US military response to the Islamic State, primarily in the form of airstrikes in northern Iraq, would be limited “in nature, duration, and scope” and not involve ground combat.
But as President Obama prepares to address the nation at 9 p.m. Wednesday to unveil his overall strategy — possibly including expanding airstrikes into Syria — he will have to convince a wary public and Congress that victory can be accomplished without re-inserting significant numbers of American ground troops.
While there appears to be support across the political spectrum to use military force to confront the group — from Senators Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, to John McCain, the Arizona Republican — there remains deep concern that the United States will get drawn into another open-ended ground war in the Middle East.
“People say we are not putting boots on the ground,” said Representative James McGovern, a Worcester Democrat. “We do have boots on the ground. We have gotten more deeply involved.”