This is what American service members would go into in Syria.
by Josh Manning
Josh Manning is a combat veteran and serves on the leadership team of Common Defense, a group of progressive veterans who want to affect political change. You can follow him on Twitter @joshuamanning23
Since we live in the time of President Donald Trump the rules of what makes for a news day has shot up to a whole new level. Take this for an example: Over the past week, Trump’s military commanders have noted a plan to send 1,000 to 2,500 US soldiers to Kuwait. Their mission is to respond to emergent crises in Iraq or Syria, military planners said.
There have not been many questions about this. More people are asking about Trump’s weekend golf plan, why cabinet secretaries are not answering questions anymore, or even why his own press secretary is avoid the media outside of InfoWars and the National Enquirer. In any normal era, a president calling for the deployment of an entire airborne brigade to a crisis area where the US is not at war is major news. Yet now, crickets.
There is some question here about the numbers. Initial reports suggested a 1,000 member “reserve force” stationed in Kuwait. The Army Times, quoting military commanders and naming specific military units, has that number at 2,500. I tend to trust the weekly newspaper that has excellent access to military readers and officials. If the early reports are mixed between the civilian and military leadership are so scrambled then you know this is going to be poorly executed.
So there will be thousands of troops from the nation’s elite airborne soldiers, the “All-American Division,” hanging out in Kuwait and waiting for trouble. We should have major concerns about this. Let me point out a few.
First, this deployment has the general overtones of sending “advisors” into Vietnam just before the real war broke out. We have advisors, great ones, currently serving in Syria and shaping smaller portions of battle. They are having limited success, but success nonetheless, so it begs the question why we need to send conventional Army units down the block.
Second, why are they in Kuwait? This will not allow for quick and easy access if something goes wrong in Iraq or Syria. The soldiers of the 82nd Airborne are used to quick deployments but what will they do if there is a mass genocide in northern Syria? How quickly can they respond? Days? A proper response would need to take hours. That assumes we are getting the information at the right time and commanders, and D.C., are ready to order them in. Also, the response and preparation for a response in Mosul, Iraq is much different than anything in Syria.
Third, why place these soldiers so far away from the front then put out that you will blame the generals and commanders for anything that goes wrong? Remember what happened in Yemen on Trump’s first day? If you do not, the military does. There is no assured way to cause ineptitude and numbness in military officers then threaten to give them bad publicity or a poor yearly evaluation. They know better.
I am grappling with the military necessity of sending 2,500 more troops to fight in battles in Iraq or Syria that the Trump Administration seems to not care about. What many people, including the highest levels of military leadership, do seem to want is confrontation with Iran. The Secretary of Defense, the commander of Central Command (who oversees troops in the Middle East), and much of the military and civilian leadership around the White House all seem to have some designs on war against Iran. Is this the “Secret Plan”?
Because you know what would be great place to put soldiers who are supposed to be the first responders for an action against Iran would be? Kuwait. You know what would really make Iran start to worry about our intent against its regime would be and causing it to take actions that would cause military conflict? Putting a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division in Kuwait along with an increased naval presence in the Persian Gulf. If things start to really flare up then we are going to have to start sending in more and more Americans to help out. Take it from there.
Once upon a time there was a check on military adventurism in the White House called Congress. I have not seen our Montana senators make any sort of statement about the planned troop increase in the region but I think I know how they would respond. We have a chance right now to vet and send someone to the House of Representatives who could either put a stop on impending war in the Middle East or accelerate it.
Having served three tours in Iraq and knowing further war would break the spirit and backs of our troops, I am all for anyone who will put a stop to this or at least call it what it is. Having seen prospective congressman Rob Quist’s views, I would imagine he is against this but it certainly demands more than a one sentence answer. As for Greg Gianforte, all he probably knows is that there is a lot of oil and natural gas in Iran and those troops are great tool for extraction.
So hey voters and Montana’s press corps, ask both candidates about sending an additional 2,500 troops to the Middle East and what it could mean. The best case scenario is a bunch of young Americans are going to be sent in to respond to crises they are not prepared for. The worst case scenario is this is just the tip of the iceberg for an impending war against a sovereign, increasingly pro-Western country that needs a diplomatic, not military, push to improve. Whoever understands that should get our vote. My guess is that the two men raised on ranches and who understand values like honesty and bravery will have the best answers.