Need To Know
The top military adviser to US President Barack Obama told Congress he'd be open to sending a ground invasion force to Iraq if it was needed. Obama's strategy to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, when he announced it a week ago, had only included airstrikes, arming moderate rebels in Syria, and training Iraq's army.
But as the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey also told Congress, half of Iraq's army is mired in sectarian division and is almost entirely unreliable. That's going to make depending on them for ground support difficult.
Meanwhile the Islamic State just released the equivalent of former US President George W. Bush's “Bring 'em on” statement: a sort of slickly produced video that pretends to be a trailer for the film, “Flames of War.”
It ends with, “Coming Soon.” They aren't wrong.
Want To Know
Good news interlude: NASA has announced that it will start sending humans to space again. The celebrated but recently defunded space program said it will send astronauts back to the International Space Station. But what's amazing about this is that it won't be using its own rockets to do so, it will be contracting two private companies — SpaceX and Boeing — to ferry the astronauts for them, launching a new era in space travel. Should be interesting.
Enough of that, let's talk about Ebola: It's still spreading and everyone's starting to freak out. Obama, who in six years has gone from anti-war folk hero to perpetual war anti-hero, announced he will send 3,000 troops to West Africa to help fight the disease. A new command center will be built in Liberia's capital, Monrovia: Another American military base.
Help is needed though as the virus continues to spread. Ebola has so far infected more than 5,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal. Liberia is the hardest hit. Half of those infected have died and half of those are from Liberia. It's scary stuff. Here's a series of charts that detail just how bad its gotten.
All that said, if you are American, you needn't be worried. The disease is confined to West Africa. If you are worried, here is a helpful guide: 'Let these 20 nervous animals teach you about the reality of the Ebola threat'.
Strange But True
The United States, at this very moment, is fighting somewhere between 134 wars and none. Strange, right? It's true. It all depends on your definition of war. Traditionally, Congress declares war. But that hasn't happened since 1942. So that means we aren't at war. But that makes no sense. The US Special Forces Command, meanwhile, admits to having forces in 134 countries. But is that really war? GlobalPost's Timothy McGrath breaks it down for us.