By J. Thompson
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
The Pentagon is putting boots on the ground in Syria in what’s described as President Obama’s multifaceted strategy to intensify support for anti-ISIS forces that are showing promise in diminishing ISIS operations according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest during Friday’s press briefing.
With a mission to train, arm, and provide strategic guidance to moderate rebels in Syria, the Commander in Chief authorized mobilization of a 50 person or less special ops force to begin operating inside areas controlled by ISIS. Earnest indicated that Iraqi forces a being built up, along with moderate rebels, and showing greater effectiveness with the help of Coalition support. The White House hopes to double-down on this new strategy with direct U.S. military oversight, but was careful to point out that the decision is not simultaneously receiving support from the Russian-backed Syrian government.
“When it comes to Northern Syria in particular, we have seen moderate opposition forces inside of Syria who have driven ISIL outside of Kubani,” Earnest continued, “after being resupplied by the United States military, these forces didn’t just drive ISIL out of Kubani, they drove them out of the broader region.”
With a 500-mile border between Turkey and Syria he stated, “all but 90 kilometers have been secured.” Earnest pointed to recent efforts that also making important progress in the city of Al-Raqqah, “the self-declared capitol of the Islamic State.”
“We’ve also demonstrated a willingness to scale back our investment in those aspects of the strategy that have not yielded progress.” Alluding to the ineffective $500 million train and equip program originally conceived to empower opposition forces to defeat ISIS—The White House and Pentagon are pivoting to a new, hands-on approach to providing tactical leadership in the field of battle. “The President announced a significant change in that element of our strategy.”
While the President’s strategy hopes to capitalize on what Earnest described as intensifying support for those forces diminishing ISIS, he made clear the President’s clear stance that there is “no military solution” to solving the conflict. Rather, he emphasized that the administration continues to seek political solutions to stabilize the region and stem the tide of fleeing refugees throughout Turkey and Eastern Europe. According to Earnest, the United States’ stake is to take “extremists off the battlefield” who are using Syria as a safe haven to attack U.S. interests and threaten its security.