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Author: TriSec    Date: 01/20/2015 11:09:07

Good Morning.

Today is our 216th day back in Iraq.

There have been no new American casualties.

We find this morning's Cost of War passing through:

$ 1, 597, 361, 560, 000 .00

While we might not have 'boots on the ground' in the current battle with ISIS, there are plenty of other nations that do. Perhaps we didn't fire a shot, but troops marching under the Maple Leaf have been fighting in recent days. So now we fight our wars by proxy?

Ottawa (AFP) - Canadian special forces exchanged gunfire with Islamic State fighters in Iraq in recent days, in the first confirmed ground battle between Western troops and IS, a senior officer said Monday.

The Canadians came under mortar and machine gun fire while training Iraqi troops near front lines and shot back in what Canadian special forces commander Brigadier General Michael Rouleau described as self-defense, killing the IS fighters.

Rouleau said the melee had taken place in the previous seven days and was "the first time we've taken fire and returned fire" in Iraq, where the extremists have overrun large areas.

"My troops had completed a planning session with senior Iraqi leaders several kilometers behind the front lines," Rouleau told a regular media briefing on the conflict.

"When they moved forward to confirm the planning at the front lines in order to visualize what they had discussed over a map, they came under immediate and effective mortar and machine gun fire."

The general said the Canadians used sniper fire to "neutralize both threats" and there were no Canadian injuries.

The United States has previously reported having launched an unsuccessful hostage-rescue operation against the IS group in neighboring Syria, but Western forces have not officially engaged in ground combat.

I don't suppose our lack of action is going to last for long, though. With a new Congress in town, the President is finally thinking about laying out a strategy and getting an actual vote on it. Of course this probably means more war.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama told congressional leaders he will propose terms for a measure authorizing U.S. military force against Islamic State, two top Republicans said following a White House meeting Tuesday.

Obama had said in November that he would seek authorization from Congress to fight the Sunni terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Since then, Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have criticized him for not spelling out possible provisions for U.S. military involvement, such as whether to impose a time limit.

"A good starting place is for him to tell us what he wants," McConnell of Kentucky told reporters after the meeting.

A debate over efforts to defeat Islamic State would reopen tension over the president's authority to conduct military operations and uneasiness among some lawmakers — mostly Obama's fellow Democrats — about being drawn into open-ended conflicts and ground combat.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate's second-ranking Republican, told reporters after Tuesday's meeting at the White House that the president's statement came as "a little bit of a surprise."

"I think that's helpful because we've been trying to get him to come up with the plan and show a little bit of what his strategy is going to be," the senator said.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said he believes Obama "is going to make some proposal" on an authorization for use of military force.

A White House statement said Obama "committed to working with members of both parties" on an authorization "that Congress can pass to show the world America stands united against ISIL," an acronym for Islamic State's former name.

Congressional leaders of both parties met with Obama today for about an hour, the first such meeting since Congress opened its new session this month with Republicans in control of both chambers for the first time in eight years.

Lawmakers who attended said the discussion was wide-ranging and covered topics including trade, cybersecurity, infrastructure and the Keystone XL pipeline.

A debate over authorizing military force against Islamic State could put Republican senators considering a run for the White House in 2016 in a tricky position. Among them are Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.

But that's not the only good news. With us finally leaving Afghanistan, we shouldn't have to worry about more Americans getting killed there, right? Eh, not so fast...

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Americans must be prepared for more U.S. casualties in Afghanistan even after the declared end to NATO's combat mission in the country, the alliance's supreme commander warned Thursday.

"All of us as commanders have reminded our senior leadership ... the war in Afghanistan has not ended, (just) the combat mission for NATO," Gen. Philip Breedlove told Stars and Stripes.

"It's hard to say, but we are going to continue to have [American] casualties" in Afghanistan, Breedlove said in an interview at Bagram Airfield.

"It is going to be unavoidable," he added.

Breedlove's comments came just days after American and allied forces officially closed the book on the 13-year International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan, shifting to a lower-key advisory role supporting, named Resolute Support.

At the time, the Obama White House and top U.S. commanders in Afghanistan heralded the transition as crucial milestone in ending America's longest war. The move represented "an end of an era and the beginning of a new one" in Afghanistan, ISAF commander Gen. John Campbell said at the command's end-of-mission ceremony in Kabul on Dec. 28.

Under the White House's plan, roughly 11,000 U.S. troops and about 2,000 NATO troops remain on the ground to train and advise Afghanistan's army and police and conduct counterterrorism operations. The American troop number is slated to drop to 5,500 by the end of this year, with all U.S. forces scheduled to leave Afghanistan by 2016.

After the collapse last summer of Iraq's U.S.-trained army when confronted by a surprise attack by fast-moving Islamist forces, analysts and U.S. lawmakers have warned that a similar scenario could unfold in Afghanistan if international troops pulled out too precipitously, leaving the government forces to fend for themselves.

While American and NATO troops are no longer the main fighting force in Afghanistan, U.S. troops will continue to be in the line of fire on a regular basis during the follow-on mission, Maj. Gen. John Murray, deputy commanding general for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said Tuesday.

"We are not going out on kill/capture missions anymore, (but) this is still a very dangerous place," Murray said in an interview at the command's headquarters at Bagram. "There are going to be some hard questions when we lose [the first] soldier" under Resolute Support.

Gotta love the Pentagon's Doublespeak on this one - "...the war in Afghanistan has not ended, (just) the combat mission for NATO..." So when is a war not a war?

I've got more stuff today, but it's vastly different from these stories. So I think I will avoid one of those radical shifts that AAV is known for, and we'll save it for another time.

65 comments (Latest Comment: 01/21/2015 03:08:57 by Will in Chicago)
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