US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the White House reportedly are considering initial proposals from the Central Command that would send 1,000 more troops into Syria allegedly to accelerate the fight against ISIL Takfiri group in Raqqa.
The proposals, first reported Wednesday by The Washington Post, would build on suggestions from Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of the command, who spoke last month during a visit to the region of the need for more artillery and logistics support for the coming assault by the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces on the Raqqa stronghold of ISIL.
If approved by Mattis and President Donald Trump, the additional forces would likely come from a mix of troops from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was aboard ships headed for the Mediterranean, Military.com reported.
Last week, the Defense Department announced that an additional 2,500 conventional troops, including troops of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were being sent to Kuwait where they would be on standby for possible deployment to either Iraq or Syria allegedly to support local forces against ISIL.
About 1,700 of the 2nd BCT troops from the 82nd are already in Kuwait and Iraq in the train, advise and assist role with the Iraqi Security Forces.
“The remainder of the brigade will be leaving Fort Bragg, going to Kuwait to be postured there to do all things Mosul, Raqqa — all in between. So the whole brigade will now be forward,” Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday.
Mattis has repeatedly said since his Senate confirmation hearings that he was looking for ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIL that could include scrapping the Obama administration’s separate caps on the number of US troops in Iraq and Syria.
Currently, about 500 mostly Special Forces troops are permitted in Syria and a little more than 5,000 in Iraq under what are called the Force Management Levels.