Local concern: Military advisers to Iraq resembles Vietnam quagmire

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- President Obama said it more than once during Thursday's White House news conference.

"American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq."

But on the streets of Boise, not everyone was convinced.

"I don't believe it," said Cheryl Pearson, visiting from Duluth, Minnesota. "I think we'll be back in Iraq and I don't agree with it."

News the president will send some 300 military advisers to assist Iraqi security forces was met with skepticism in town.

Many people we talked to are worried about so-called "mission creep" -- that larger American forces will ultimately follow the small contingent of U.S. military advisers as happened in Vietnam.

"Basically, we send advisers in there, they get into trouble, our troops get in trouble, and we've got to go back in there," said Richard Ficarro of Boise.

A fast-moving Sunni insurgency is challenging Iraq's Shiite-led government but some people say America should just stay out of it.

"We need to focus on our own State of the Union, make sure we are solid and strong, and let other people fend for themselves, " said Scott Fink of Couer D'Alene. "I know that's a harsh thing to say."

Though not specifically mentioning air strikes, an option the U.S. has been considering, Obama said he was leaving open the possibility of "targeted and precise military action" in the future. He said the U.S. also would increase its intelligence efforts in Iraq and create joint operations centers in Baghdad and northern Iraq.

When coupled with previously announced steps, Obama's actions could put about 600 additional U.S. troops back on the ground in Iraq. The 300 military advisers he announced Thursday would join up to 275 being positioned in and around Iraq to provide security and support for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and other American interests.

Mindful of what he called "the deep scars left by America's war in Iraq," Obama was adamant that U.S. troops would not be returning to combat.

"We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq," Obama told reporters in the White House briefing room. "Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by Iraqis."

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)