From the Stars and Stripes:
"After promising to end 2 wars, Obama may leave 3 behind"
President Barack Obama's decision to expand the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Syria is a reflection of the conflicting pressures on a commander in chief who doubts that military force alone can end the conflicts in those countries, but who also feels compelled to act in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe and a growing threat to the United States. The president on Friday said that he was sending about 50 Special Operations troops to northern Syria to work with Kurdish and Arab fighters battling the Islamic State. The deployment, though small, marks the first full-time deployment of U.S. forces to the dangerous and chaotic country. The troops will be accompanied by more U.S. attack planes, based across the border in Turkey, and plans for more joint raids — led by Iraqi counterterrorism forces — to capture and kill Islamic State leaders. The troops, planes and plans for more raids represent an "intensification" of the president's existing strategy, said senior administration officials. Few of those officials, however, suggested that the moves would be enough to break open the stalemated conflict or produce sudden battlefield gains. "This is a very complex battle space, and we're not directly involved in the way we've been in the past," said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Without a clear overarching strategy to resolve the conflict, "we're looking at things in a granular way," the official said. The goal, for now, is simply to incrementally reinforce those areas that are working and abandon initiatives that are not. Obama began his second term having brought one war in Iraq to an end and pledging to bring home America's ground troops from a second in Afghanistan. To that end he set hard limits on U.S. deployments and firm time frames for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. As he nears the end of his presidency, Obama faces the prospect that he will leave office with ground forces deployed to three combat zones. Last month, the president said he would keep 5,500 ground troops in Afghanistan to advise struggling Afghan army and to pursue the remnants of al-Qaeda. In Iraq and Syria, the president has incrementally boosted the U.S. force, beginning an initial deployment of several hundred troops to Iraq in 2014, after Iraqi army forces in Mosul were overrun by Islamic State fighters. The president sent 450 more American trainers and advisers after Iraqi forces were routed at Ramadi by a much smaller Islamic State force in the spring. Frustrated with the lack of progress, Obama in July made a rare visit to the Pentagon to push Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and his top commanders for options to increase the intensity of U.S. military operations without putting U.S. troops in a direct combat role. The president's final decision balanced his desire for the United States do more with his determination to keep American forces from being pulled too deeply into conflicts in which U.S. effectiveness was limited or where there were no clear military solutions. The 50 Special Operations troops and the new attack planes heading to Syria and Turkey will bolster Kurdish and Syrian Arab forces that were able to make surprising gains over the summer with the backing of U.S. warplanes. Over the longer term, U.S. officials said that a loose coalition of Syrian Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish fighters might be able to dislodge the Islamic State from a 68-mile stretch of the border, creating a space where refugees can find haven. The hope is that the coalition can also begin to provide some level of governance and take part in diplomatic negotiations to replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But even the most optimistic U.S. officials said such an outcome could take years.
^ No real shock here. The country and the world are less safe now mainly due to Obama's complete lack of military experience or understanding. His trial and error approach has cost soldiers and civilians their lives in his 2 terms in office and the only thing we have gained is another battlefield with less allies supporting us. It would be great if Obama could just admit defeat and resign now rather than making us suffer more loses until he leaves office in 20117. He is doing more harm than good in every sense of that phrase. ^