The Los Angeles Times reports:This should freak you out. Unprecedented darkness descending on a President's power to send troops to war overseas. https://t.co/Qf5UtH4Hm2— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 31, 2017
Even as the U.S. military takes on a greater role in the warfare in Iraq and Syria, the Trump administration has stopped disclosing significant information about the size and nature of the U.S. commitment, including the number of U.S. troops deployed in either country.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon quietly dispatched 400 Marines to northern Syria to operate artillery in support of Syrian militias that are cooperating in the fight against Islamic State, according to U.S. officials. That was the first use of U.S. Marines in that country since its long civil war began.
In Iraq, nearly 300 Army paratroopers were deployed recently to help the Iraqi military in their six-month assault on the city of Mosul, according to U.S. officials.
Neither of those deployments was announced once they had been made, a departure from the practice of the Obama administration, which announced nearly all conventional force deployments.
The decision appears to be making good on Trump’s promise as a candidate to insist on more of an “element of surprise” in battle tactics.
“In order to maintain tactical surprise, ensure operational security and force protection, the coalition will not routinely announce or confirm information about the capabilities, force numbers, locations, or movement of forces in or out of Iraq and Syria,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.
That move deprives the public of information it has a right to know about the wars in which the U.S. is engaging, said Ned Price, National Security Council spokesman under Obama.
“The position of the Obama administration was that the American people had a right to know if servicemen and women were in harm’s way,” he said.
In addition to the number of troops being larger, American forces are now nearer to the front lines in both Iraq and Syria than they have been since the war against Islamic State began nearly three years ago.-RW
The deployment of Marines to Syria was confirmed for the first time publicly this week by Gen. Joseph Votel, the top commander in the Middle East, in response to a question at a congressional hearing from a member of the House Armed Services committee who asked whether there were additional Americans inside the country.
“They have deployed,” Votel said, adding that there were likely more troops headed for deployment.