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Obama Admin Dodges on Shifting Stance On Troops In Syria

- April 25, 2016

During The State Department Press Briefing Today, The Obama Administration Dodged On Its Shifting Stance On Troops In Syria Three Times

State Department Spokesman John Kirby Stated That "There Was Never This Boots On The Ground" Line About Syria. AP's MATT LEE: "On a broader Syria story, you know back in 2014. The Syrian regime crossed the President's red line on using chemical weapons, and ended up after saying he would strike, he ended up not. Now today he's announced 250 more troops going to Syria, after saying for months and months that there would be no boots on the ground. I'm just curious is this some part of some devious grand strategy to say one thing and then do the complete opposite of it. And if it is, what exactly are you hoping to accomplish with this?" STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY: "Well, I'm going to. Obviously I'm going to be careful not to speak to D.O.D. equities here, but let me talk about what this is. It is." LEE: "You don't need to talk about what it is specifically that they are doing. The fact of the matter is that, and the point of my question is that the administration is doing the exact opposite in these two cases of what it said it was going to do, or said it wouldn't do." KIRBY: "I don't see it that way Matt. So if I could just tell you what it is. Then we could maybe, maybe we could have a better discussion about it. It is capitalizing on what we know works, and what works is advise and assist missions. Which we've been doing for a long time. It is not mission creep if it is the same mission, and it's the same mission. And he introduced, he introduced about 50 special operation forces on the ground that they've had a positive impact on our ability to go after Da'esh inside Syria and because it has been successful, we've want to intensify. I've stood up here for I don't know how many weeks, and talked about the fact that we want to intensify our efforts against Da'esh. This is a process, which has worked, so the President has decided to increase it, to the tune of 250. And there was never this, never this no boots on the ground. I don't know where this keeps coming from. No there wasn't. There was we're not going to be involved in a large scale combat mission on the ground. That is what the President has long said. Wait a minute, wait, wait, wait we have 3,000 some odd troops in Iraq already in an advise and assist capacity at bases throughout the country. Don't tell me and don't tell them and their families that they're not on the ground; they are very much on the ground. But they aren't involved in a large scale, full scale ground combat." LEE: "For months and months and months, the mantra from the President and everyone else in the administration, that there would be no boots on the ground." KIRBY: "No, no that is not true." LEE: "What?" KIRBY: "It's just not true Matt." LEE: "It's true." KIRBY: "No it's not. I just flatly, absolutely disagree with you. Because I've been speaking to this since I was in uniform over 2 years ago." LEE: "Ok well your predecessor up here said all options are on the table except boots on the ground and that was it." KIRBY: "I never said that." LEE: "Well that was the whole line from the President on down, anyway. Are you saying this is not the same thing as saying one thing and doing the other completely?" KIRBY: "I'm absolutely rejecting that thesis." (John Kirby, State Department Briefing, 4/25/16)

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State Department Spokesman John Kirby Denied That Obama Is Doing The Exact Opposite Of What He Previously Stated In Syria. AP's MATT LEE: "Then you can't say you're setting a red line on chemical weapons and then not act on the red line. And you can't say no boots on the ground, and then send boots on to the ground, and say you're not doing the opposite of what you intended." STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY: "The mission set of these troops is very much consistent, with those that have gone before them." (John Kirby, State Department Briefing, 4/25/16)

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State Department Spokesman John Kirby Said "There Is No Point In Arguing The Boots On The Ground Rhetoric." REPORTER: "Boots on the ground, boots on the ground, these are soldiers they have gone out in harm's way and somehow by throwing that term around." STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY: "First of all this is an interesting debate for the State Department and I'm not sure why this discussion isn't happening elsewhere in town, but there's no point in arguing the boots on the ground rhetoric. There's absolutely no point in it. I'm not disputing the fact that we have troops on the ground, and they're wearing boots, I've got that." (John Kirby, State Department Briefing, 4/25/16)

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Earlier In The Day, Obama Announced That He Would Send An Additional 250 Special Forces Troops To Syria

Today, The Obama Administration Announced That He Will Send An Additional 250 Special Operations Forces To Syria. "U.S. President Barack Obama has announced an additional 250 special operations forces will be sent to Syria in the coming weeks in a speech in Hannover, Germany in an effort to stem the influence and spread of ISIS. 'Just as I approved additional support for Iraqi forces against ISIL I've decided to increase US support for local forces fighting ISIL in Syria, a small number of special operations forces are already on the ground in Syria and their expertise has been critical as local forces have driven ISIL out of key areas,' Obama said, using another acronym for the jihadist group." (Barbara Starr and Kevin Liptak, "Obama Announces An Additional 250 Special Operations Forces To Syria," CNN, 4/25/16)

  • The Increase Brings The Number To As Many As 300 Troops In Syria. "He said the increase would bring the number of U.S. special forces in the country to as many as 300 troops, including special forces." (Barbara Starr and Kevin Liptak, "Obama Announces An Additional 250 Special Operations Forces To Syria," CNN, 4/25/16)

In October 2015, Obama Made The Decision To Deploy A Special Forces Contingent Of Around 50 Troops To Syria To Serve In A Train, Advise, And Assist Capacity. "The U.S. will send a small number of U.S. special operations forces into Syria as part of a shift in its strategy against ISIS, White House officials announced Friday. President Barack Obama has authorized a contingent of fewer than 50 commandos to deploy into northern Syria and work with moderate opposition forces who are fighting the militants. While the White House has consistently said it would not put U.S. boots on the ground, spokesman Josh Earnest insisted that they will be there in a 'train, advise and assist mission' - and not in a combat role." (Richard Engel, Kirsten Welker, and Cassandra Vinograd, "U.S. To Deploy Special Operations Forces In Syria: Officials," NBC News, 10/31/15)

Since 2013 And Before The October 2015 Deployment Of 50 Special Forces Troops, Obama Has Repeatedly Pledged No "Boots On The Ground" In Syria

USA Today Headline: "16 Times Obama Said There Would Be No Boots On The Ground In Syria." ( USA Today , 10/31/15)

Since 2013, Obama Has Repeatedly Promised That There Would Be No "Boots On The Ground" In Syria But The Administration Has Maintained That The Policy Change "Doesn't Change The Fundamental Strategy" In The Fight Against ISIS. "Since 2013, President Obama has repeatedly vowed that there would be no 'boots on the ground' in Syria. But White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president's decision Friday to send up to 50 special forces troops to Syria doesn't change the fundamental strategy: 'This is an important thing for the American people to understand. These forces do not have a combat mission.' Earnest said the promises of 'no boots on the ground' first came in the context of removing Syrian President Bashar Assad because of his use of chemical weapons. Since then, Syria has become a haven for Islamic State fighters." (Gregory Korte, "16 Times Obama Said There Would Be No Boots On The Ground In Syria," USA Today , 10/31/15)


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