503+ Boots on the Ground and Counting

No comment on this item except to say “I told you so”:

More flexibility for American commanders appears to be coming. Representative Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas Republican and the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he expected the White House to remove “artificial troop caps” in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The current “force manning level” for Syria sets a limit on the number of American military personnel in Syria at 503. But the limit does not count temporary reinforcements, like the roughly 400 personnel who were deployed in Syria when the Marine artillery battery and Army Rangers were sent to the country.

There was another telling indication on Wednesday that American Special Operations would continue to play an important role. Col. Jonathan P. Braga, the chief of staff of the Joint Special Operations Command and the former deputy commander of Delta Force, has been named as the next senior operations officer for the American-led command that is leading the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Surely you remember President Obama’s “no boots on the ground” promise (“promise”)? It took less than three years for the promise to evaporate and be forgotten.

But you, object, how can we hold Obama responsible for Trump’s putting boots on the ground? Answer 1: because Obama put them on the ground first. Answer 2: because Obama was making the promise not on his own behalf but on behalf of the United States Government, of which he was president. Precisely because he had no way of binding his successors to this “promise,” the promise was a sham from the beginning. And precisely because he initiated the dynamic that predictably led to a troop increase (while insisting that we wouldn’t need to send troops), he’s guiltier of fraud than his successors, who are simply upping the ante on a project he began.

I’ve previously discussed this topic here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and probably a couple of other places that I’ve missed. And no, I’m not done.

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