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Obama’s ISIS War Proposal Blocks Future Commitments

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The White House is set to introduce a new Authorization for Use of Military Force against Islamic State extremists, designed to maximize American flexibility and minimize boots on the ground.

Representatives of the administration, including the White House and State Department, have revealed details of the proposed bill, BloombergView reported Tuesday. The suggested AUMF would prohibit permanent American ground troops from deploying against ISIS until 2018, well after President Barack Obama will have left the presidency.

While preventing full-time boots on the ground, or “enduring offensive ground operations,” the bill would allow for the existing 3,000 advisors helping the Iraqi military, as well as special operations forces, airstrike coordinators, and Search and Rescue teams. Those exceptions would also expire in 2018, which would prompt another round of Congressional approval.

Obama has been fighting ISIS for nearly six months under the legal pretext of a 2001 AUMF against al-Qaida and a similar 2002 law covering Iraq. But Congressional demands to formally vote on formal U.S. involvement has led the administration to introduce a separate measure specifically covering the extremist group.

According to BloombergView’s Josh Rogin, the proposed new law would repeal the 2002 Iraq war authorization, while preserving the original AUMF against al-Qaida.

Besides the 3,000 advisors and leadership in international airstrikes, American commitments have been slow in coming against ISIS. Some have speculated that a proposed defense budget will include provisions for training local Kurdish and Christian militias, who are actively fighting against the group in northern Iraq. (RELATED: Rogue Americans And Iraqi Christians Among Forces Pushing Back ISIS)

The ambiguously worded new bill, with its explicit ban on ground troops, is apparently crafted to meet maximum Congressional approval. A 2014 attempt to pass an AUMF against ISIS was originally lost amid disputes over the scope of the law — one proposal would have allowed combat against all conceivable “emerging regional terrorist groups that share a common violent extremist ideology” — and broader budget fights in Congress which resulted in a stopgap “continuing resolution.”

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