During a speech at the Defense One Summit in which he repeatedly insisted that the US troops heading to Syria won’t have a “combat mission,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes conceded that the troops will be going out on raids against ISIS forces, during which they’ll engage in combat.
This only adds to the confusion surrounding the mission, in which 30-50 US ground troops are to be sent to Syria and embedded with some force in the Hasakeh Province, presumably the Kurdish YPG under the guise of the “Democratic Forces.”
On Friday, after the announcement of tyhe deployment, officials were feverishly insisting it would be totally “non-combat” in Syria, and suggested the troops would stay at a “quasi-headquarters” instead of going out on missions themselves, keeping the operation purely advisory.
This narrative was ditched almost immediately, however, and Rhodes says now that they’ll be going out on raids involving combat sometimes, but that the troops wouldn’t be on raids more often than not, meaning the combat is not going to be “the norm.”
This suggestion that more than half of the time the ground troops won’t be engaged in combat and subsequently it’s a “non-combat mission” is another dramatic revisionist shift for the administration, after ruling out “boots on the ground” at all, and repeatedly insisting there would never be a US ground presence inside Syria.