President Obama continuously promised "no boots on the ground" in the fight against ISIS in Syria, but a decision he just announced seems to contradict this notion.
On Monday, the president said he's ramping up the American military's involvement in Syria and sending 250 US Special Operations Forces to aid local forces against ISIS, ABC News reports.
This will bring the total number of American troops in the country to 300, with 50 personnel already there.
In a speech delivered in Hanover, Germany, the president said,
I've decided to increase U.S. support for local forces fighting [ISIS] in Syria. They're not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces that continue to drive [ISIS] back. These terrorists are doing everything in their power to strike our cities and kill our citizens so we need to do everything in our power to stop them.
The president argued America is not sending "boots on the ground" to fight ISIS in the sense of a traditional, large-scale invasion like what occurred in 2003 with the Iraq War. But, these troops will still be in danger, and American soldiers already died combatting ISIS in the region.
Prior to Obama's speech, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes admitted these troops will still be in harm's way, but argued they are not on a combat mission.
Obviously, any special forces troops that we deploy into Iraq or Syria are going to be combat-equipped troops. They may be in circumstances where they find themselves in harm's way because these are dangerous places. They're not being sent there on a combat mission. They're being sent there on a mission to be advising and assisting and supporting the forces that are fighting against [ISIS] on the ground.
All of this is emblematic of the careful language the Obama administration continues to employ regarding America's military activities in Iraq and Syria. President Obama is wary of drudging up bad memories of the Iraq War, one of the most disastrous conflicts in American history.
Responses to this move will definitely be mixed, as some would like to see the US do more against ISIS, while others worry this additional involvement will just make the situation worse.
The consequences of this decision remain to be seen. But, any way you look at it, hundreds of American boots will now be on the ground in Syria.