Seems Leon Panetta has an axe to grind with his old boss, saying that Obama caved into the counsel of his top aides rather than listen to him when it came to retaining a "small US force" in Iraq. I hope Leon mentions in his book that this was Robert Gates plan, engineered in the waning months of the Bush administration, and carried out by the Obama administration, which he served.
A wave of criticism has emerged with the rise of ISIS, or IS as it is now being referred to. For all this blather that we should have retained a force in Iraq, there is little mention that military intelligence advisers warned way back in 2002 that a war with Iraq would increase Islamist militancy throughout the region. But, it seemed the Bush administration had a score to settle with Saddam Hussein and wasn't heeding any of this advice. It was only in 2007 that Bush seemed to see for the first time the Pandora's Box he had opened and made what Fox news now regards as a "warning."
Obama based his 2008 campaign on full withdrawal from Iraq, so it was little surprise that his advisers told him to stick with the plan. The only question was whether he would step up that withdrawal to 16 months (as hinted during the campaign) or let it go through as planned for three years. Panetta was fully aware of this, but it seems he got ants in his pants in 2011 and pushed for retaining a small contingent in the country.
I don't think these air strikes will do much to beat back the Sunni insurgents, nor would have keeping a "small US Force" in the country. These fratricidal battles have been ongoing for centuries and no doubt will continue well into the future. Our involvement in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan only serves to exacerbate these conflicts, as we inevitably take sides without looking into these sectarian differences in any depth. It is the Good Indian/Bad Indian argument all over again. We still seem to base our foreign policy on romantic Western myths rather than the reality of the situation.