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As Syrians Stand Up, Defense Officials Say US Troops Will Stand Down
Much like with Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States can check out of Syria any time but it can never fully leave.
The United States will maintain a presence of troops in Syria for the foreseeable future to deter both the Islamic State and Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday.
“Let us be clear: The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria focused on ensuring ISIS cannot reemerge,” Tillerson said during a speech at Stanford University. “Our military mission in Syria will remain conditions based.
“We cannot make the same mistakes that were made in 2011, when a premature departure from Iraq allowed al Qaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually morph into ISIS. It was that vacuum that allowed ISIS and other terrorist organizations to wreak havoc on the country and it gave ISIS a safe have to plan attacks against Americans and our allies. We cannot allow history to repeat itself in Syria.
“ISIS has presently has one foot in the grave. By maintaining an American military presence in Syria until the full and complete defeat of ISIS is achieved, it will soon have two.”
The United States currently has about 2,000 troops in Syria as part of the war against the ISIS, which has been decimated in both Syria and Iraq by the U.S. and its allies on the ground, including Syrian Kurds.
Indeed, Tillerson’s remarks came as Turkey voiced strong objections to a U.S. plan to create a force of about 30,000 Kurds to guard Syria’s border. Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG terrorists and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to “drown” the proposed border force.
When asked about Tillerson’s Syria comments on Wednesday, a Pentagon spokesman reiterated the United States would maintain a “conditions-based” military presence in Syria to prevent ISIS from reconstituting itself and becoming an insurgency.
“Operating under recognized international authorities, the U.S. military will continue to support local partner forces in Syria to stabilize liberated territory,” said Marine Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said in an email to Task & Purpose.
The U.S. military’s plan is to transfer security in Syria to local forces over time, Rankine-Galloway said. The process of stabilization includes restoring basic services in territory now free of the ISIS’ control, disposing of mines and unexploded ordnance and ensuring the free distribution of humanitarian aid.
“While the nature of U.S. support to partner forces will adjust as the coalition shifts from major urban combat operations to stabilization tasks, U.S. support will not end until the enduring defeat of ISIS and will be determined by conditions on the ground,” Rankine-Galloway said.
Once again, the U.S. military’s strategy has been cut and pasted from an earlier era. The Defense Department’s language is almost word for word what the U.S. policy toward Iraq was during former President George W. Bush.
From 2003 to 2008, the U.S. government consistently said that U.S. troops would not leave Iraq until conditions on the ground allowed doing so. Only when security had improved significantly during the surge and Sunni awakening movements did the two countries strike an agreement for the U.S. withdrawal at the end of 2011.
“As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists,” Bush said in a November 2005 speech. “These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders – not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.”
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.
PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.
Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
Rajesh Ramcharan, 45; Diann Ramcharan, 37; Sgt. Galima Murry, 31; and the Rev. Ken Harvell, 60, were found guilty Thursday after a nine-day jury trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado.
The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it was sending to Ukraine the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger plane that the Iranian military shot down this month, an accident that sparked unrest at home and added to pressure on Tehran from abroad.
Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.
The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.