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US Draws Up Plans For 1,000 More Troops In Syria As Raqqa Siege Looms
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.
In early March, U.S. Army Rangers were sent to the city of Manbij, west of Raqqa, as a visual deterrent for Russian, Turkish and Syrian opposition fighters operating there. That deployment of ground-combat troops marked a dramatic shift in U.S. policy in Syria. Only days later, a Marine artillery battery was deployed near Raqqa, mirroring the use of firebases in Iraq ahead of the Mosul offensive, and strikingly reminiscent of the tactics employed during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The artillery position near Raqqa has already come under fire, the Post’s T.M. Gibbons-Neff reported.
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.
KABUL (Reuters) - At least 29 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in Taliban attacks that followed air and ground assaults by government forces on the Islamist group at the weekend.
The surge in hostilities signals deadlock at stop-start peace talks involving U.S and Taliban negotiators in Doha. The Defense Ministry said on Sunday government forces had killed 51 Taliban fighters in the weekend assaults.
But the Taliban hit back, carrying out attacks on security checkpoints in the northern province of Kunduz on Tuesday night in which a security official who declined to be identified said 15 members of the Afghan army were killed.
29 years after Desert Storm, an Air Force general says we’ve forgotten the lessons that made it so successful
When Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) took to the podium at the dedication of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial site in Washington D.C. last February, he told the audience that people often ask him why a memorial is necessary for a conflict that only lasted about 40 days.
Horner, who commanded the U.S. air campaign of that war, said the first reason is to commemorate those who died in the Gulf War. Then he pointed behind him, towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam are etched in granite.
"These two monuments are inexorably linked together," Horner said. "Because we had in Desert Storm a president and a secretary of defense who did the smartest thing in the world: they gave the military a mission which could be accomplished by military force."
The Desert Storm Memorial "is a place every military person that's going to war should visit, and they learn to stand up when they have to, to avoid the stupidness that led to that disaster" in Vietnam, he added.
Now, 29 years after the operation that kicked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait began, the U.S. is stuck in multiple wars that Horner says resemble the one he and his fellow commanders tried to avoid while designing Desert Storm.
Horner shared his perspective on what went right in the Gulf War, and what's gone wrong since then, in an interview last week with Task & Purpose.
The Navy SEAL accused of strangling Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was promoted to chief petty officer two months after Melgar's death, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.
March Air Reserve Base in California will host nearly 200 U.S. citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, China due to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, a Defense Department spokeswoman announced on Wednesday.
"March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense (DoD) stand ready to provide housing support to Health and Human Services (HHS) as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China," said Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah in a statement on Wednesday.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus, which is a mild to severe respiratory illness that's associated with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has so far killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, according to news reports.
More problems with Air Force's new tanker could put the squeeze on the Pentagon's refueling capabilities, TRANSCOM chief says
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Protracted delays on Boeing's new KC-46 tanker could leave the Pentagon with a shortage of refueling capacity, the head of U.S. Transportation Command warned on Tuesday.