NEW ORLEANS -- Al-Qaida-inspired extremists continue their push through northern Iraq, taking control of several cities in their march toward Baghdad. It is the worst threat to the Shiite-led government there since U.S. troops left in 2011.
Former Marine Sgt. Jeremy Brewer from Belle Chasse did two tours of duty in Iraq. He called the recent uptick in sectarian violence there very troubling.
"When we were there, we did what our country asked of us," said Brewer. "I know a lot of veterans are feeling frustrated about some of the losses in ground that we took while were there. Those sacrifices we made are not in vain and that kind of orientation toward service and the leadership skills that we gained while fighting are sorely needed here at home."
Some lawmakers are now calling for U.S. air strikes in Iraq to slow the insurgency. President Barack Obama said his national security team was looking at all military options.
"I don't rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria for that matter," he said.
About 100 Marines and Army soldiers have been sent to Baghdad to help with embassy security. The Pentagon is also sending two navy ships to the Persian Gulf.
Brewer said he's not sure sending U.S. ground forces to Iraq would make a difference long term.
"I think everybody understands that we can't stay there and keep it stable for ever. There's got to be a point where we're not there and they've got to be able to take control for themselves."
Brewer also says the crisis now playing out in Iraq was predictable.
"I don't think many of the veterans that have fought in Iraq would be surprised that now this sectarian violence is happening again and it's going the way it's going."