The troops are from the 82nd Airborne, a unit that is not known for “advising.” In this article from Stars and Stripes, a publication aimed at US soldiers, veterans and defense personnel, you’ll see that their mission is to “train, advise and assist” the Iraqi army in its war against ISIS.
I’m sure that the US government really believes that its troops won’t be involved in combat. But at some point, unless the local forces prove more effective than they have up to now despite their superior numbers and firepower, they’re going to take losses, and then a US President–this one or the next one–will have to decide whether to pull the “advisers” out or send them into combat. This comes just after the US proudly ended its military engagement in Iraq, a misguided war that critically damaged US standing in the Mideast in the short, medium and possibly long term.
If you’re old enough to remember, this is going to sound a lot like Vietnam, which started with “advisers” and escalated to 500,000 US troops. That war ended with 55,000 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians dead, and the outcome was totally predictable–a win by the local side with the strongest ideology and foreign backing–North
Vietnam. That’s a better analogy than the US missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, though there, too, there was an effort to “train” local forces to fight militants, failing for the most part in both places.
I don’t want to get all extreme here, but you know the definition of a person who keeps making the same mistake over and over again while expecting different results. It’s time to learn the lessons instead of repeating the failures. ISIS is a threat to the Mideast, and Mideast nations must either repel it or surrender. Additional outside intervention, especially from the US, works in the favor if the “resistance.”
An illustration is the Kurdish military, which has fought ISIS effectively, driving it out of some parts of its territory. Part of the mission of the US “advisers” is to help the Kurds. That needs to be done very quietly, to avoid “tainting them with the stench of the oppressive American imperialists.”
To the extent that ISIS is a threat to the US or Europe, it’s terrorism, not conquest–so it needs to be controlled though military intelligence and old-fashioned intelligence–just as al-Qaida has been controlled for the past decade-plus.
The more direct threat is to Israel, and there are reports that Israel is beefing up its forces a bit along its northern borders. A cold assessment of the forces involved shows that ISIS is no match for Israel militarily, so Israel, too, will have to fight it with intelligence. Israel has decades of experience in dealing with Muslim radicals that way. Watch and learn.