Speaking today in Germany during meetings with European officials, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter confirmed that the US is once again considering options for the further escalation of the war against ISIS, which would involve sending more US ground troops into both Iraq and Syria.
The US has announced two such escalations in the past two weeks, with 217 troops announced to be heading to Iraq on April 18, and 250 more troops being deployed to Syria just last week. Despite this, President Obama continues to present his wars as something other than “boots on the ground.”
Carter’s talk of yet more escalation, though nor surprising, comes so close to the last escalations that it’s a little disconcerting, with Carter only saying the US “are always looking to build momentum” in the war, and offering no details on how many more troops might be deployed.
The announcement also comes the same day as a US Navy SEAL was killed in ground combat in Iraq, despite repeated administration protestations that the US forces in the country are strictly “non-combat” facilitators, there to train and advise the Iraqi military.
With deployments always in the dozens or low hundreds at any given time, the US has still managed to get over 5,000 ground troops into Iraq, with another 300 in neighboring Syria, in less than two years.
In addition to boosting the numbers in both countries, the troops have also been increasingly deployed along the front lines, meaning that even if they are nominally not “combat” troops, they will inevitably end up in direct combat.