Defense officials have drawn up plans for as many as 1,000 ground troops to head to Syria in the coming weeks, the Washington Post reported this afternoon. If approved by President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the deployment would nearly double the American presence in the country ahead of the expected offensive on the Islamic State’s de facto capital, Raqqa.
The decision could bring U.S. troops into closer contact with the enemy and deepen the military’s involvement in a conflict marked by numerous armed factions with conflicting priorities.
While the additional troops may not serve in a direct combat role, given the complex and volatile nature of the conflict in Syria, they may be at considerable risk.
The troop increases are expected to happen alongside a White House decision to officially end the troop caps put in place in Iraq and Syria by the Obama administration. At the moment, those limits are set at 5,000 in Iraq and 500 in Syria.
If sent, the additional troops would support the Syrian Democratic Forces, a consortium of Kurdish and Arab fighters in the north, with U.S. forces offering expertise on bomb disposal and coordinating air support and indirect fire. Currently, there are roughly 500 U.S. special operations forces in Syria operating alongside the SDF, plus another 250 Rangers and 200 Marines.
The additional troops would probably be drawn from units already in the region, according to the Post — possibly the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, which currently has 2,500 troops in Kuwait.
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Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.
The union representing 260,000 Department of Veterans Affairs employees recently won a "cease and desist" arbitration ruling against the department's posting of lengthy lists of firings, suspensions and other disciplinary actions in violation of the Privacy Act.
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