On October 27, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the US will start “direct action on the ground” against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. The stated aim of these actions is to intensify pressure on the militants because the US-led coalition’s progress against them remains elusive.
“We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL [SF editor: ISIS, IS etc], or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground,” media cite Carter’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee.
It means that the White House has decided to show “its power” in the Middle East.
The SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence team believes that “to show” is the main idea of this move. How we’ve said the US extremely needs to expand its presnece in the region but doesn’t want to take part in clashes against terrorists directly. The US has been able to set a no-fly zone or a buffer zone and to launch ground operations since the start of its anti-ISIS campaign. Without a no-fly zone, it’s hardly possible.
Indeed, the US policy in Syria and Iraq cleary shows that the Pentagon doesn’t want to launch a full-scale military campaign against militants (al Nusra, ISIS etc). Military experts believe that in this case ISIS could be destroyed by the US Armed Force in a few month and won’t be able to arise as a terrorist state in the Middle East.
Its surprising but a part of the Obamas advisers really believes that Russia want to involve the US into a Vietnam 2.0 in the Middle East. Its another reason why the US is gentle with its military activity.
So, under the words about “direct actions” the US officials hide another idea:
The Pentagon is going to send a limited number of special forces units to the Iraqi army and Syrian Kurdish paramilitary groups. Their main aim is to establish a coordination between the ground forces an the US Air Force at the battleground. De facto, the US servicemen will play role of military advisor groups in the local ground forces. This year, the Pentagon has tried to launch a program aimed to train rebels for this task. Now, we could conclude that it has failed.
The possibility that the US could move its special forces units to the forefront remains but it depends on the ongoing developments. If local groups (primarly Kurdish) are able to take control of Raqqa by their own, the US officials will likely prefer to avoid this.