The deadline set by US President Donald Trump for the Pentagon’s “defeat ISIS” plan is growing near, and among the options being considered are putting US boots on the ground to engage ISIS directly in Syria.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Marine General Joe Dunford said, “We’ve been given a task to go to the president with options to accelerate the defeat of ISIS specifically, but obviously other violent extremist groups as well. So we’re going to go to him with a full range of options from which he can chose.”
The US does not currently have troops directly engaged against ISIS. However, there are 5,000 American soldiers in Iraq, some of whom are working with Iraqi forces in battles to retake territory. While they attempt to remain behind the front lines, US troops in Iraq have come under fire by ISIS, and have shot back.
Putting troops in direct battle with ISIS could be quite different, as it would bring more US air and ground assets to bear against the terrorist enemy, while also exposing American troops to much greater risk.
America also has around 500 Special Ops personnel in Syria.
Trump repeatedly criticized the Obama Administration for their inability to destroy ISIS, and promised he would eliminate the Islamic State quickly.
That said, any plan that has US troops engaged in another large-scale fight in the middle east could be a hard sell for a President who heavily criticized the Iraq War – calling it a waste of money that destabilized the Middle East. It is also questionable whether American’s want to see their country engaged in another foreign conflict, instead of focusing on the severe problems within the country.
The easiest political solution would be a massive bombing campaign, reducing the risk of American casualties while still having tangible actions and results.
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