In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
introduced this legislation to avoid restricting President Obama and his
successor in their efforts to defeat ISIS:
think an AUMF, an authorization to use military force, that ties the
president’s hands behind his back is not something I would want to do to
a new president, who’s going to have to clean up this mess.”
Both the White House and Democrats in Congress have expressed concerns about the broad nature of this AUMF. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) believes it would weaken the role of Congress in voting to send U.S. troops to war:
resolution is a total rewrite of the War Powers Clause in the U.S.
Constitution. It is essentially a declaration of international martial
law, a sweeping transfer of military power to the president that will
allow him or her to send U.S. troops almost anywhere in the world, for
almost any reason, with absolutely no limitations.”
Of Note: The growth of ISIS throughout Iraq and Syria
has left U.S. policymakers with difficult decisions to make in their
efforts to stop, and ultimately eliminate the group's influence in the
region. The CIA estimated in the fall of 2014 that ISIS had between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters.
Much of ISIS' notoriety in the U.S. comes from the beheadings of several Americans and the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities via military campaign. During the 113th Congress, two bills were introduced — one to end the AUMF against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and one to repeal the AUMF and declare war on ISIS — but neither was successful.
Beginning in August 2014, the U.S. began carrying out airstrikes in Iraq, started arming the Kurdish Peshmerga,
and eventually lead airstrikes against ISIS targets in
Syria. By mid-May 2015, the U.S. had carried out over 3,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
During this time, the number of American ground troops sent to Iraq
has increased, with the first deployment raising troop levels to about
800 soldiers. Many of these soldiers were protecting the U.S. Embassy in
Baghdad (which employs more than 5,000 people), and other diplomatic outposts.
By February 2015, total troop levels in Iraq topped 3,000 after several deployments of about 1,000
troops each. These personnel are primarily tasked with training the
Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga, while defending U.S.
diplomatic facilities. They are not engaging ISIS in ground combat,
although some participated in the evacuation of the Yazidis from a mountain where they had been surrounded by ISIS fighters.
In October 2015, U.S. special forces participated in a raid in Syria that left one American serviceman dead. The Obama administration insists that the raid doesn't constitute a change in strategy towards a combat mission.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user U.S. Dept. of Defense)