WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning the military strategy to combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIL.
"We are at war with ISIL, as we are with al-Qaeda," Hagel told the Committee.
When commenting on U.S. military support to Iraq, Dempsey acknowledged that, if needed, he would recommend utilizing an unspecified number of the 1,600 deployed military advisers in a ground force capacity to bolster the Iraqi forces in their fight against IS.
"To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president."
Dempsey's remarks seem at odds with the Administration's insistence that there would be no American boots on the ground in Iraq or Syria, and contradicted Hagel's testimony that "American forces will not have a combat mission."
Secretary of State John Kerry commented Sunday about the use of ground forces in Syria, where the U.S. has agreed to train and equip the moderate opposition's Free Syrian Army in its battle against IS militants.
During the interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face The Nation, Kerry said that "we're not looking to put troops on the ground" and insisted, "We know the United States is not going to do that." However, he acknowledged, "There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that, at this moment anyway."