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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.
Two Air Force pararescue Airmen were awarded the Silver Star Medal on Friday for saving dozens of lives during separate Afghan battles in 2018 and 2019.
Tech Sgt. Gavin Fisher and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen both received the third highest military award for their bravery. Fisher also received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government covertly moved to expel two officials from the Chinese embassy earlier this year, after they drove onto a military base, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
The newspaper reported on Sunday that one of the two Chinese officials is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.
The Chinese officials breached security at a base in Virginia this fall, and only stopped driving after fire trucks were used to block their path, the Times said.
Trump set to announce he's withdrawing 4,000 troops from Afghanistan amid troubled peace talks with Taliban
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000 US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials.
This would come as the US is engaged in ongoing, troubled peace talks with the Taliban. The talks resumed in early December after Trump abruptly scrapped negotiations with the Taliban in September, only to be paused again this week after an attack near Bagram Airfield on Wednesday.
Thomas Hoke can still recall the weather in December 1944, and the long days that followed.
The battle started on Dec. 16, but his company arrived Dec. 27 and would stay there until the battle's end, nearly a month later. By the time he arrived, snow had blanketed Germany in what was one of the biggest storms the country had seen in years.
"It was 20 below and a heavy fog encompassed the whole area," Hoke, 96, recalled from his Emmitsburg home.
The fog was to Germany's advantage because Allied aircraft were grounded, including recognizance flights, allowing the Nazis to slip in.
West Point is investigating a hand gesture made by several cadets and midshipmen during an ESPN pre-game broadcast at the Army-Navy game Saturday after clips of the signals went viral because of their association with white power.
"West Point is looking into the matter," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "At this time we do not know the intent of the cadets."