As the conflict in Iraq increases, U.S. President Barack Obama has approved and sent more than 100 military advisers and drones to provide protection for those American advisers while they are in Baghdad. According to ABC World News on Friday, June 27, the Pentagon has confirmed the armed drones would be flying over Iraq for surveillance, as well as to help protect those U.S. advisers while they are on the ground.
On the ground, Iraqi officials say that troops are pushing the militant insurgents known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the most extreme faction of al-Qaeda, out of Tikrit. Iraq’s military alleges they have gained the upper hand and is re-gaining control of the region, per CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield on Saturday, June 28. Meanwhile, many Iraqi citizens are desperately fleeing the on-going battle between ISIS and Iraqi military forces. During the first few days of the attack nearly half a million Iraqis fled Mosul, through the war zone, into the Kurdish autonomous region. However, the Kurdish regional government, insisting they must to protect their own region, has now closed some of their border crossings, closing that option to those fleeing Iraqi citizens.
Robert Baer, CIA case officer in the Middle East, told Whitfield Saturday on CNN Newsroom, “We need first hand American-controlled intelligence on the ground — and reconnaissance drones will do that. If there should be some sort of decay in the security situation in Baghdad, we’re going to need those drones to protect our mission there — we have a very large embassy, and they’ll need to be gotten. Now, we may have to send troops in to get them out. We’re not there, yet. But, you can never tell. We can’t trust the Iraqis clearly on this — they just can’t tell the truth in what’s happening in Mosul and Anbar Province.”
CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA/FBI counterterrorism official, Philip Mudd told Fredricka who asked if the drones over Baghdad were helpful or harmful in this conflict, it was vital that America have drones flying overhead. Mudd said, “I’d say helpful. My view is based on one word, and that word is Benghazi. When you’re putting people in harm’s way — whether it’s a military adviser who is there to support the Iraqi military, but not to participate in operations — you don’t want a situation where their operational facilities are being breached and you don’t have, for example, a drone or other capability to go hit whoever is breaching the wall.
“The second long-term issue,” Mudd continued, “is the game I used to be involved in when I was at the CIA. If the president ever gives the order for us — that is the United States — to be involved in operations against the insurgents, one of the great point-target weapons out there, obviously, is the armed drone — the same kind of thing that we used to eliminate a lot of al-Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”