Rebels from an al Qaeda splinter group have taken over numerous cities in Iraq and threaten to continue escalating the violence.
The militants are from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also referred to as ISIL or ISIS. This week they’ve overrun Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and chased government forces out of Tikrit.
Iraqi officials have called upon the United States for assistance military to quell the insurgence and temper the violence. President Barack Obama said Thursday that he is looking at “all options” in dealing with the insurgency but didn’t go into detail as to what he is considering.
Meanwhile, veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom look at the videos and reports of the violence in Iraq and fear that any type of U.S. intervention or assistance could lead to entangling of troops down the line.
“The military's job isn't to police other countries. Our job is to protect our borders; our job is to protect the constitution and our citizens,” said former U.S. Army Sgt. Kacey Schlundt.
Schlundt enlisted in the military after 9/11 and served in Iraq between 2006 and 2008.
“Having been there, we should never have been there in the first place,” Schlundt added. At first he was put on a multi-international tactical training unity (MITT) tasked with training Iraqi army.
His faith in the dedication and character of some of the Iraqi soldiers he worked with diminished over the course of his tour.
“They’re running and hiding and basically taking their uniforms off and not having anything to do with it,” Schlundt explained. If Iraqi soldiers and police aren’t willing to fight and die for their country, Schlundt said he thinks it’s irrational to send American troops to fight and die for Iraq.
His fear, like many other veterans is that sending boots on the ground in Iraq would lead to further resentment among Iraqi insurgents and a higher death toll of soldiers.
In the end, Schlundt medically retired from the Army. Leaving with the feeling that the majority of Iraqis didn’t want U.S. troops around and that they weren’t effective in creating a stable environment.
“We wasted a lot of lives and it was for nothing,” said Schlundt.
Veterans are split in their support of U.S. involvement in Iraq but Schlundt said the men and women he served with believe it was a lost cause. As did former U.S. Army Sgt. John Motyl.
“As soon as we left in 2011, it started crumbling,” Motyl left Iraq in 2011. He carries the scars of war with him and is adamant that the U.S. has no business getting involved militarily in Iraq.
“We've already had troops over there; we've already done this mission. Is it worth sending more troops over there? I don't think so,” said Motyl.
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D-Mich) released a statement this week saying: “We got into Iraq without adequate consideration for the consequences. What is required now is thoughtful consideration of our options, none of which, typically for the Middle East, is obvious or easy. It’s important to keep in mind that a major source of Iraq’s problems has been the refusal of the Maliki government, despite persistent U.S. encouragement, to reach out to its Sunni citizens to forge a unified and inclusive Iraq. No action on our part can resolve that disunity. It’s unclear how air strikes on our part can succeed unless the Iraqi army is willing to fight, and that’s uncertain given the fact that several Iraqi army divisions have melted away. While all options should be considered, the problem in Iraq has not been so much a lack of direct U.S. military involvement, but a lack of reconciliation on the part of Iraqi leaders.”