by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
The United States will deploy dozens of special operations forces to northern Syria to advise opposition forces in their fight against Islamic State, a major policy shift for President Barack Obama and a step he has long resisted to avoid getting dragged into another war in the Middle East.
Given this new “strategy,” if we can even call it that, I thought it’d be useful to share with readers the 16 times Obama has publicly promised over the last couple of years to not send ground forces into Syria.
With American media once again singularly obsessed with the latest thing Donald Trump said, you might be surprised to find out that actual news is occurring.
What I’m referring to specifically is the latest incident of transparency flouting from the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration” ever. Namely, the U.S. military’s refusal to disclose how many American soldiers are engaged in combat against ISIS.
The Hill reports:
The Pentagon has declined to say how many U.S. troops are actually on the ground in Iraq and Syria more than two years after the first deployments to fight the Islamic State.
The military only shares the number of full-time troops deployed, known as the “force management level” or FML.
That figure is currently about 3,825 in Iraq and 300 in Syria, but the number of troops on the ground, including temporary deployments, is much higher.
There are an additional 800 to 900 U.S. troops and defense personnel temporarily deployed to Iraq, a figure that a defense official says “tends to run around.”
It’s unclear how many temporary troops are in Syria.
A Central Command spokesman acknowledged to The Hill that some troops that temporarily deploy aren’t counted. In some cases, that’s included senior officials on “personnel visits.”
So kinda like the unemployment rate?
Some worry that officials are hiding the deepening U.S. involvement in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
You don’t say.
The pressure for the Pentagon to release the actual troop numbers comes as the administration faces questions from both parties about the strategy to fight ISIS and with no signs Congress is close to a deal on a war authorization.
Who needs Congress when you can just do whatever the fuck you want.
The issue has been simmering for months. Defense officials have rejected repeated requests from reporters for the actual numbers.
“There’s been a decision made not to release that number,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman, told reporters on March 21. “The number that we release is our force management level… I don’t have a reason for not releasing this number other than it’s the orders that I’m under.”
On Wednesday, a defense official again said the actual number won’t be made public, a decision from the office of the Defense Secretary and Centcom.
A spokesman for the Joint Chiefs said the number of troops deployed on a temporary basis can change widely day-to-day, and it would be too difficult to explain the numbers to the public.
Well that’s a new one. The American public is too stupid to understand!
The current force management level is 3,825 in Iraq and 300 in Syria, There are 800 additional troops and personnel temporarily deployed to Iraq and another 100 U.S. troops at the Office of Security Cooperation in Baghdad, which technically falls under the State Department and is not counted.
And there are more troops on the way: The administration is deploying about 400 more troops to Iraq soon. The Pentagon room also has room to deploy an additional 422 troops at any time under caps set by President Obama.
Those deployments would bring the total number of troops in Iraq and Syria to 5,847 — well above the Pentagon’s publicly released force management level.
But even that number doesn’t include troops involved in the ISIS fight stationed elsewhere in the Middle East, outside of Iraq and Syria.
Centcom told The Hill on May 4 that there were 700 additional U.S. troops fighting ISIS in the region. But weeks later, Col. Warren publicly said the number was actually “several thousand others throughout the region and 1000s more back home.”
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