As US wars drag on, there is a concerted effort by the administration to insist that the troops aren’t really taking part in combat operations for decades on end in the same countries. This has had officials lying regularly about “boots on the ground” and about what counts as a combat soldier.
In Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson has been putting more and more troops into front-line areas, trying to slow mounting Taliban gains. He confirmed that special forces and other US troops accompany Afghan military forces into combat “about 10 percent of the time.”
But the troops being embedded in combat units, going into combat situations with weapons, are “non-combat” troops, with Nicholson insisting the troops are there “in an advisory role” and aren’t meant to be participating directly in close combat.
Indeed, this claim that the troops are advisers is so non-credible that the Pentagon has added a new term, calling them “expeditionary advising packages,” which attempts to explain why, despite being nominally non-combat, they’re getting thrown headlong into combat situations.