US Sends Troops To Syria: Here Are The Questions The Media Should Be Asking
So, the US will embed US Commando units with Kurdish forces, giving them air support from Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, the very same base that was used by Turkey to bomb those same Kurdish forces. Does anyone in the military, or Administration, have any sense whatever? It doesn’t appear so. – Shorty Dawkins, Associate Editor
On Friday, The White House announced that the US is set to put boots on the ground in Syria.
Predictably, virtually no one in the mainstream media is asking the right questions.
A painful Q&A with Josh Earnest saw the White House Press Secretary attempting to explain to reporters that there’s a distinction between “advise and assist” and “combat.” In short, everyone was keen on documenting the stark contrast between placing spec ops troops in harm’s way and Obama’s 2013 pledge to “not put boots on the ground” inside Syria.
While documenting the purported “shift” in strategy may make for good weekend reading for America’s clueless masses, it completely misses the point. As recently released helmet cam footage clearly demonstrates (assuming it actually depicts what Washington says it depicts) 30 Delta Force commandos were involved in a single operation in Iraq. That is, nearly as many troops as Obama is now set to send to Syria fought just last week in one battle against ISIS. And while that’s Iraq and we’re now talking about Syria, the distinction is to a large extent meaningless – there are American boots on the ground in the region and there have been in one capacity or another for at least 12 years.
The real questions revolve around where these troops are going to be placed, what their objectives are, and ultimately, how the Pentagon plans to do this without putting them in the crosshairs of either the Russians, the Turkish air force, or Hezbollah. Here’s a bit of color from WSJ on what the “plan” is:
Up to 50 U.S. special-operations troops will assist Syrian rebel units spearheading what the Pentagon says would be a new military offensive against the militant group, marking a sharp escalation in the level of direct U.S. involvement on the ground inside Syria. The American forces are to link up with local forces in Kurdish-controlled territory whose mission will be to choke off supply lines to Islamic State militants in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.
The first phase of the new campaign is expected to kick off with an operation in northern Syria as early as next week, officials said. U.S. drones and fighter planes will provide the Syrian fighters with air support.
Under Mr. Obama’s new orders, the American commandos will operate in Syria under what the Pentagon calls an advise-and-assist mission, and will not accompany local forces on any of their operations “for the foreseeable future,” a senior U.S. defense official said.
But other defense officials said they couldn’t rule out the possibility that the forces would be pulled into occasional firefights with Islamic State military given their proximity to the confrontation line. The officials cited as an example last week’s raid in Iraq in which a U.S. commando was killed.
To support local forces with their ground campaign, Mr. Obama has authorized the deployment of A-10 Warthog ground-attack planes as well as F-15 fighters to the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, administration officials said.