Defense Secretary James Mattis hasn’t finalized his recommendations for the ISIS war, and doesn’t expect to do so until the end of the month, but Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel seems pretty sure that he’d like more troops to command in Syria, and that could mean a significant expansion of US ground troops in Syria.
Reports out of the Pentagon that this was likely to be the decision of their deliberation on war recommendations have repeatedly suggested an “accelerated” campaign in Syria with a large deployment of US combat troops would at least be among the options President Trump faces.
Much of this appears to be centered on the desire for the US to capture the ISIS capital city of Raqqa, and their announced offensive against Raqqa began months ago, with Kurdish YPG forces leading the way, and hasn’t resulted in much territory changing hands.
The plans reportedly in consideration include substantial increases to US arms shipments to the Kurds, a move which would doubtless anger neighboring Turkey. Votel appeared in favor of this idea, but said it was also possible for the US to bring in some other rebel faction to prop up for the attacks.
There is also speculation that Mattis may order an increase in ground troops to Iraq, though the US commander in Iraq insisted he believed he had all the authority and resources to win already, meaning the focus is likely more heavily on Syria when the announcement does come.