While everyone was freaking out over a lion, the Obama White House just declared war on Syria and hardly anyone even noticed.
Late last night the White House issued a change in its Syrian War rules of engagement. Now it looks like the US will be committing military forces to protect anti-ISIS and anti-Assad forces in Northern Syria.
The change will affect the Department of Defense’s newly trained moderate Islamic rebels inside Syria who are fighting a myriad of terrorist groups trying to bring down the Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad.
“We view the Syrian forces trained and equipped by the Department of Defense as partners in the counter ISIL/ISIS effort,” according to Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon Spokesman. “These forces are being provided with a wide range of coalition support in their mission to counter ISIL/ISIS, which includes defensive fire support to protect them.”
Doctrinally, once the US military has achieved air superiority, they use attack helicopters, armor, and artillery to defend ground troops.
However, the new development doesn’t come without risk. The use of air based ground support opens up air assets to shoulder fire missiles (MANPADs), RPG fire, as well as small weapons fire.
In a statement from White House National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said, the US will only assist US-trained forces. The help includes “defensive fire support to protect them. We won’t get into the specifics of our rules of engagement, but have said all along that we would take the steps necessary to ensure that these forces could successfully carry out their mission.”
The Pentagon had a slightly different take on the new rules of engagement (ROE) in Syria. Until Sunday night the ROE’s were to engage ISIS and leave President al-Assad’s forces alone. “We recognize, though, that many of these groups now fight on multiple fronts, including against the Assad regime, (Islamic State) and other terrorists,” Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Elissa Smith said.
The move comes after the Pentagon confirmed that US-trained fighters were ambushed and killed by al-Nusra Front/al-Qaeda terrorists near their Syrian headquarters. The Pentagon reminded reporters that the new recruits have been explicitly directed not to fight against the al-Assad regime unless they are attacked first.
But, with a dozen or so terrorist groups operating inside Syria can anyone really confirm if any of the fighters are good or bad guys? Retired Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer said, “It is chaos. The only groups we are recommending are the Kurds.” And the Kurds have come under relentless attack from Turkish President Recep Erdogan after the Turks agreed to allow US planes to use their strategic military bases near the Syrian border last week.
The question now becomes, how will the US control the escalation of US forces into the war theater since current US doctrine requires engaging the enemy without exposing troops to direct conflict with ISIS, al-Qaeda, Syrian, Kurds, and even Turks?
Equally important is that lawmakers have not authorized war powers in Syria, which sets-up a potential showdown on Capitol Hill after Congress returns from its five-week break. Last time that topic was argued on Capitol Hill the American people rose up and squashed US intervention in the Syrian War in an overwhelming fashion (story here).
Make no mistake this latest action jeopardizes the expansion of US involvement in Syria and Turkey without a war authorization act.
“Obama is doing now what’s he’s done thus far. He’s doing only enough to silence his critics and to convey the impression of U.S. action when, in reality, there is none,” Retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, a decorated combat veteran, a Ph.D. and the author of five books on military affairs described.
The alleged “moderate Sunni Muslim Force” in Syria is estimated to be 54 “reliable” men with rifles, if that. “In the foreseeable future offensive operations by these elements against the Assad Regime are unlikely. If these moderates attempted offensive operations against the Assad Regime they would require massive air strikes to support them. If we opted to do this we would end up assisting Erdogan to install a Sunni-Islamist regime in Damascus allied with the Turks,” Macgregor explained.
Read more at examiner.com
Zero Hedge reports
As Syria’s civil war enters its fourth year, it’s become something of an open secret that ISIS, for all their bluster and Hollywood-level video editing capabilities, are at best an unhappy side effect of efforts to train and arm the Syrian resistance and at worst, are a “strategic asset” funded and supported by coalition governments.
In other words, there is indeed a geopolitical chess match going on here that will have far-reaching consequences when the blood and dust settle, but it has nothing to do with ISIS’ far-fetched quest to establish a Medieval caliphate and everything to do with installing a government in Syria that will be more friendly to the interests of the West and its Middle Eastern allies.
ISIS will remain in play as long as they are necessary, but once the time comes for the US to clean up the mess left by Syria’s three-front war once and for all, that will be all she wrote for this particular CIA asset. Until then, everyone apparently gets to use Islamic State as an excuse to pursue their own political agenda, as evidenced by Turkey’s new war on “terrorists.” Not wanting to miss an opportunity to justify what would otherwise be a rather brash declaration, Russia is reportedly ready to send in the paratroopers should Syria request Moscow’s help in battling terrorist elements. Here’s more via Tass:
The Russian Airborne Troops are ready to assist Syria in countering terrorists, if such a task is set by Russia’s leaders, commander of the Airborne Troops Colonel-General Vladimir Shamanov told reporters on Tuesday.
(USSR paratroopers ca. 1975)
“Of course we will execute the decisions set forth by the country’s leadership, if there is a task at hand,” Shamanov said, in response to a Syrian reporter’s question about the readiness of the Russian Airborne Troops to render assistance to Syria’s government in its battle against terrorism.
Shamanov noted that Russia and Syria have “long-term good relations.” “Many Syrian experts, including military, received education in the Soviet Union and in Russia,” Shamanov added.
In other words, two (or three, or four) can play at the “use ISIS as an excuse to go to war with our real enemies” game and just like the US can send in trainers and “forward spotters” to protect its interests in Iraq, so too can Russia send in a few airborne troops to protect its interests in Damascus.
It’s now only a question of political will and as we’ve outlined on a few occasions recently, it’s not entirely clear how much longer Vladimir Putin is willing to support Bashar al-Assad in the face of the debilitating, Saudi-engineered slump in crude prices and the biting economic sanctions imposed on the Kremlin by Europe.