Limit U.S. advisers in Iraqi conflict

To Americans of a certain age, the news out of Washington may sound disturbingly similar to reports from more than a half-century ago.

Last Tuesday, an official at the Pentagon said consideration is being given to sending more U.S. military advisers to Iraq. The intent would be to assist that country’s government in beating back an assault by Islamic terrorists.

About 250 U.S. military advisers already are working in Iraq. According to the Defense Department, 160 of them are advising Iraqi forces directly. Another 90 are, to quote an Associated Press story, “studying the strength of the Islamic State militant group’s fighters and the Iraqi government forces …”

Rewind to the early 1960s, when then-President John F. Kennedy began stepping up involvement of U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam.

If you do not recall what happened next, check the history books. Eventually, U.S. advisers became involved in combat. Some were wounded and killed. That led to a formal U.S. combat role in the Vietnam War.

And that led to 58,220 American deaths and hundreds of thousands of Americans wounded.

Perhaps more advisers should be sent to Iraq – but not at the risk of an escalation of the U.S. military role there, whether by accident or design.