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No, Trump Isn't Going To Pull Out Of Syria. But Would That Be So Terrible?
President Donald Trump has signaled that he wants the U.S. to completely pull out of Syria. While that lofty goal will probably be walked back in the coming days, I wonder: Would that actually be so terrible?
Here's the context: According to The Washington Post, Trump instructed the Pentagon to start planning for a withdrawal from Syria, but no date has been set. Interestingly, some on the left and in media circles immediately criticized this as being a "gift to Russia."
Now I really don't believe that Trump is going to rid Syria of all U.S. forces. Just like he's done in the past, he has said what he wants, but will likely end up deferring to his generals.
More likely, he can succeed in removing conventional troops from Syria — the Marine artillerymen and standard Army infantry units operating there — while keeping in place some special operations forces and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets.
That sounds fine to me.
Back in 2014, the U.S. military sent troops into Syria and Iraq with a clear goal: Work by, with, and through regional partners to militarily defeat ISIS. That's it. That's all we were supposed to do.
Our mission wasn't to get rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Our mission wasn't to solve the Syrian Civil War. It was to defeat a group of terrorist scumbags and stop them from cutting off any more heads.
And we've completed the task. ISIS's capital city of Raqqa has fallen, and the group is, for the most part, wiped out. Much like al Qaeda, it will likely morph into a decentralized cell structure that can never be fully eradicated.
Now I ask of all the armchair quarterbacks out there: What instead? Rather than immediately criticizing the president for wanting out of one of the many countries the U.S. has its military in, answer: What next?
Are we supposed to jump right in the middle of the dispute between Turkey and the Kurds? (And remember, we have a major airbase on Turkish soil.) Are we supposed to get rid of Assad?
And then what?
Are we supposed to fight Iran there?
And then what?
Are we supposed to fight Russia there?
And then what?
There are no good answers here. Even before we became involved in this fight, we knew that the U.S. couldn't solve the Syrian War. Just because we have good intentions and want something to happen doesn't make it so.
But we knew we could get rid of ISIS. And we have.
So let's bring some of our troops home. That doesn't mean all of them. SOF and drones supporting the regional partners can help prevent the return of ISIS. Or if you think we should keep them there, take some time to think about how this all plays out.
In my view, keeping conventional forces around so they can find improvised explosive devices with their feet strikes me as something we should end, especially after 17 years of war in the Middle East. But that's just me.
An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.
The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.
"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."
Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.
"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."