In what could become the first Congressional war vote held in 13 years, President Barack Obama has proposed U.S. military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The president's Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) is asking for Congress to approve the deployment of military forces on a limited scale, but reactions to his authorization request have been mixed.
"The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other, more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving U.S. or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership," Obama wrote in his letter to Congress on Wednesday. "It would also authorize the use of U.S. forces in situations where ground combat operations are not expected or intended, such as intelligence collection and sharing, missions to enable kinetic strikes, or the provision of operational planning and other forms of advice and assistance to partner forces."
The reason for the proposal to Congress is in reaction to what Obama admits is a threat to the United States Homeland from the Islamic State "if left unchecked."
But Obama wanted to make it clear that this isn't a request for another ground war as we saw in the unpopular Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He admits in a speech at the White House Wednesday afternoon that the mission will be difficult, especially considering the landscape of urban and vast mountainous regions, but the president vows that "ISIL is going to lose."
As expected, the reaction to this proposal was skeptical on both sides as many Republicans on Capitol Hill were not satisfied with the short-term nature of the military action while Democrats were unhappy that the action is even being proposed at all.
President Obama is asking for a three-year authorization for military action against the Islamic State that would not only apply to him, but also the next president to be elected in 2016. The move would also repeal the 2002 AUMF that Congress first approved to give then-president George W. Bush authorization to invade Iraq, but wouldn't repeal the earlier AUMF that was enacted in 2001 that is currently being used to justify the White House's limited operations against the Islamic State that started in August.
But this proposal doesn't mean that there's been any kind of official declaration of war, especially considering the fact that our current enemy doesn't affiliate with any one country.
House Speaker John Boehner said that Obama's request is "the beginning of a legislative process. It will involve hearings, markups and I'm sure changes as we go through the process, and so at this point I think that we've got an awful lot of work to do before I get into what I'm for, what I'm against."
"Any authorization for the use of military force must give our military commanders the flexibility and authorities they need to succeed and protect our people," Boehner continued, explaining that the request may not even go through. "I have concerns that the president's request does not meet this standard."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is all for the authorization, but worries about "any undue restraints" thrown in by lawmakers before final approval is made. ""The president's draft language reflects important input from Congress, and would give our personnel the support and flexibility needed in our military operations against ISIL," Hagel explained. "We want Congress's full, bipartisan support in this fight because the country is stronger when both parties and both branches of government stand and work together."
"Our coalition is strong, our cause is just, and our mission will succeed," the president said.