Within the span of one day, President Barack Obama warned against sending ground troops to Syria just as his administration announced deploying an additional 250 special operators to the country.
Obama will explain his decision to the deploy the contingent of mostly U.S. Army Special Forces during a speech Monday in Germany after he said deploying ground troops to Syria would be a “mistake” during an interview with BBC.
“Syria has been a heart-breaking situation of enormous complexity, and I don’t think there are any simple solutions,” said Obama. “It would be a mistake for the United States, or Great Britain, or a combination of Western states to send in ground troops and overthrow the Assad regime.”
Obama’s sentiments echoed an earlier speech in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh where he said “none of the options are good” when it comes to the conflict in Syria, but he noted an end to the violence will require a political solution.
Despite his supposed apprehension to committing a ground force to Syria, Obama’s deployment will bring the total U.S. presence in the country to around 300. The initial 50 personnel were in the country for what has been referred to as a “counter-terrorism” mission.
“There’s going to be a military component to this, to ensure that … we’re also engaging in the counter-terrorism activities that are necessary,” said Obama.
Retired Army Lt. Col. David Mann, a former Army Special Forces officer, likes the idea of putting Green Berets in the field to fight Islamic State, but only if they are given the authority to complete the mission properly.
“Green Berets are the modern day Lawrence of Arabia,” Mann told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “But I’m worried whether these guys will get the authority they need to do their work.”
Mann believes the top-down approach the Obama administration has implemented hamstrings the ability for the Special Forces to do their job. He explained that Green Berets are used to operating locally to mobilize various tribes and forces to fight a common enemy, but in order to be successful they need time and the authority to advise local militias on the battlefield.
Obama’s mission creep in operations against Islamic State has included an announcement last Monday that a deployment of 217 additional military personnel and Apache attack helicopters will be sent to Iraq to bolster the fight for the Iraqi city of Mosul. With the new contingent included, the total number of U.S. military personnel in Iraq is 3,850, just 20 under the cap of 3,870. Unofficial reports claim the actual number is as much as 5,000.
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