U.S. Defense Department will not rule out putting additional troops on the ground in war-torn Syria when it presents President Donald Trump with a range of options to fight the Islamic State group, known as ISIS.
At the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on February 23, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said, “We’ve been given a task to go to the president with options to accelerate the defeat of ISIS specifically, but obviously other violent extremist groups as well,” according to McClatchyDC. Dunford added, “We’re going to go to him with a full range of options from which he can choose.”
As a candidate, Trump said he would “bomb the shit out of ISIS,” but he also criticized his opponent Hillary Clinton’s predilection for military interventionism. To date, the president has maintained a confounding duality when it comes to the use of military force, one that remains muddled by his call for “safe zones” in Syria to help stanch the flow of refugees, but which will ultimately require a military presence on the ground to enforce. Moreover, such a presence could find itself in conflict not only with ISIS and other radical Islamist groups but also with Syrian and Russian military forces.
About 500 U.S. special forces troops are already operating inside Syria (a holdover from the Obama administration and the representation of a broken promise by President Barack Obama). Military action in the form of airstrikes against ISIS polled well among Americans last year (about 72 percent), but putting U.S. ground troops in Syria fared far worse—with only about 42 percent in favor.
Specifically, if this threat to US nation is determined to be as significant as they believe it is, Americans may not wish to reassure their enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground’: if a brigade of our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines could strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose.