Pentagon likely to announce US has 2,000 troops in Syria, not 500 – officials

Introduction — Nov 25, 2017

U.S. troops on Turkey's border with Syria. Click to enlarge

U.S. troops on Turkey’s border with Syria. Click to enlarge

It’s a measure of how utterly useless the corporate media has become that the following Guardian report fails to ask one simple but obvious question. What are thousands of U.S. troops actually doing in Syria?
The answer to that question is all the more pressing given that ISIS has been all but broken in battle, a defeat that has been accomplished largely with Russian and Iranian support.
Given that the Guardian fails to address this question and in the absence of an answer, we’ll proffer our own.
A recent Washington Post report claimed that the Trump administration was “expanding it goals” in Syria. That means, according to Nicholas Heras of the Washington-based Center for a New American Security, quoted in the report:
“The conditions are there for the counter-ISIS campaign to morph into a counter-Iran campaign,”
In other words with ISIS now in defeat, U.S. troops are in Syria for the next stage of the Pentagon’s campaign against Iran. Ed.

Pentagon likely to announce US has 2,000 troops in Syria, not 500 – officials

Guardian Staff and Agencies — Nov 24, 2017

The Pentagon is likely to announce in the coming days that there are about 2,000 US troops in Syria, rather than the 500 the military has said are in the war-torn country.

Two US officials detailed the new figure on Friday, as the military acknowledges that an accounting system has underreported the size of forces on the ground.

Separately, Donald Trump discussed developments in Syria with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Sunday, a spokesman for Erdoğan said.

The US military has publicly said it has about 500 troops in Syria, mostly supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces group of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting Islamic State in the north of the country.

The two officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon could as early as Monday publicly announce the new figure, though there was always a possibility that last-minute changes could delay an announcement.

An accounting system, known as the Force Management Level (FML), was introduced in Iraq and Syria under the Obama administration as a way to exert control over the military.

But the numbers do not reflect the extent of the US commitment on the ground, since commanders often find ways to work around the limits, sometimes bringing in forces temporarily or hiring more contractors.

Current FML figures are officially 5,262 in Iraq and 503 in Syria, but officials have privately acknowledged that the real number for each country is more. In August, the Pentagon announced that there were 11,000 troops serving in Afghanistan, thousands more than it has previously stated.

The Pentagon said last December it would increase the number of authorized troops in Syria to 500. It is not clear how long the actual number has been at about 2,000.

Obama periodically raised FML limits to allow more troops in Iraq and Syria as the fight against Isis advanced. As that campaign winds down, it is unclear how many, if any, US troops will remain in Syria. Most are special operations forces, working to train and advise local partner forces and to provide artillery support.

Continues …

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