U.S. deploying special operations forces to Syria
By Jeff Schogol and Aaron Mehta, Staff writers 4:55 p.m. EDT October 30, 2015
As part of a major overhaul of the U.S. government’s strategy against the Islamic State group, President Obama on Friday authorized the deployment of “fewer than 50” U.S. special operations troops to northern Syria, where they will work with local forces in the fight against the militants.
The deployment is one part of a five-part plan aimed at changing the direction of operations in Iraq and Syria, as the war against the Islamic State, often known as ISIL or ISIS, enters its second year. It will be accompanied by an increase in the number of airstrikes from both the U.S. and coalition allies.
“We are willing to adjust the program when things are succeeding and we’re willing to change things when they are not succeeding,” a senior defense official told reporters Friday after the announcement. “We’re willing to adjust the program.”
More on linkThe U.S. can and should act decisively in Syria in order to protect its national security interests and those of its allies. The current exodus of refugees from Syria presents significant economic and security challenges to America’s allies in Europe and the Middle East, and directly benefits the Syrian Assad regime, Iran, Hezbollah, Russia, the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS). Continued U.S. inaction in the face of these strategic challenges will only exacerbate the security situation and empower America’s enemies and strategic competitors. The White House announced on October 30 small adjustments to U.S. implementation, such as adding less than fifty special operations forces to train and assist the Kurdish-Arab Force in northern Syria. These changes are insufficient to meet the strategic challenges. Continued U.S. inaction and half-measures will only exacerbate the security situation and empower America’s enemies and strategic competitors.
One course of action for the U.S. in the near term is to establish a No-Fly Zone over select areas of Syria. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford testified on U.S. strategy in the Middle East before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on October 27, 2015. Carter stated that he does not have a concept of operations for a no-fly zone in Syria to recommend. Dunford stated that it is possible to implement a no-fly zone in Syria but highlighted political and legal challenges, adding that a no-fly zone would divert resources from fighting ISIS. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is said to have asked his staff to explore this option and its implementation ....