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Robert Gates

Obama asserts 'no boots on the ground,' but others dissent

President Barack Obama's firm determination that no more American combat forces will be introduced in the Middle East battlefield may well thwart his intention to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the new threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Many U.S. military experts, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, have suggested that eventually some such troops may be required to carry out that definitive order. They note particularly that on-the-ground forces to spot and guide targets for the air strikes already under way are essential for maximum success. Some others have proposed insertion of U.S. Special Forces onto the battlefield in...