Respinning, White House Insists Troops in Syria Won’t Have ‘Combat Mission’

Officials Continue to Mince Words on 'Combat' Against ISIS

With last week’s death of a US Special Forces soldier serving as the first confirmed instance of US ground troops put in combat operations in Iraq, the Pentagon has spent most of this week distancing itself from the old “non-combat” narrative, insisting the war obviously involves ground combat, and setting the stage for today’s plan to send special forces into Syria to fight ISIS.

Today, however, hot off the heels of this new deployment announcement, the White House is back to spinning the whole thing as “non-combat,” insisting the strategy “hasn’t changed” and that the troops are going to serve in a purely advisory role, a claim that contradicts what the Pentagon has been saying for days.

Incredibly, the White House is also defending sending ground troops to Syria as not violating President Obama’s pledge not to put “boots on the ground” in Syria, insisting anyone who interprets the grounds troops as boots on the ground is taking the president “out of context.”

Thus, while the Pentagon had seemingly resigned themselves to ceding the argument about combat, the White House seems determined to maintain the pretense, through countless new escalations, that the war remains some purely theoretical, aid-based exercise.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.