(Antiwar) Officials familiar with the situation say that the United States is deploying an “additional” 400 ground troops to Syria to fight against ISIS. The new figure includes the troops sent to Manbij and the artillery Marines sent to Raqqa recently, as well as some other, yet-to-be-deployed forces.
All told, this will slightly more than double the number of US troops in Syria, as when President Trump took office, estimates were of 300 or slightly more. The formal US cap on troops in Syria is 503, which basic math will show they have since far exceeded. This is true in Iraq as well, where the Pentagon long deliberately lied about the “official” deployment to Iraq to stay under the cap by labeling thousands of troops as “temporary,” but open-ended deployments.
It does not appear that this is the total escalation proposed in the plan delivered by the Pentagon early last week, but may be the first stage. This also does not include the “reserve” deployment of over 1,000 troops to Kuwait, which could be accessed at will by commanders in both Iraq and Syria for escalations.
Details on the Pentagon’s plans suggest that the goal is “rapid” progress against ISIS on the ground, particularly in Syria, though the rapidity appears purely optional since, particularly in the case of Iraq, officials say the deployments are basically permanent, and the troops will stay long after the war is over anyhow.