Sullivan reacts to White House Spokesman’s Statement on Combat Troops in Middle East

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) released the following statement today in response to comments made by White House spokesman Josh Earnest yesterday after it was reported that another American service member was killed in action in Iraq. Earnest told reporters that “the relatively small number of U.S. service members that are involved in these operations are not in combat but are in a dangerous place.” 

Senator Sullivan said, “My deepest sympathy and respect goes out to the families and friends of the American service members recently killed in action. The White House continues to diminish the service and sacrifice of our troops serving in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere by peddling the fiction that they are not engaged in combat. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford have recently and unequivocally said they are. I appreciate their honesty.”

“The President and White House spokesman Josh Earnest need to level with the American people and tell the truth about what our brave troops are doing in the Middle East – they are in combat, it’s not a ‘small number,’ and they are doing their duty trying to keep our country safe.” 

During a Senate Armed Services hearing last week, General Dunford agreed with Senator Sullivan that our Joint Special Operations Command troops conducting counter-terrorism missions in the Middle East, as well our numerous pilots flying bombing sorties, are all engaged in combat. Secretary of Defense Carter also agreed, stating that these service men and women “are in combat and we need to more clearly state it.” A recent article in the Military Times stated that U.S. Marine artillerymen in northern Iraq “fire every day”.