The White House has just given the Pentagon green light and more flexibility to handle Iraq and Syria. Under General Mattis, the US has quietly been adding troops these regions.
The AP reports: WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is giving the Pentagon greater flexibility to determine the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, in another move by President Donald Trump to shift greater power to his military leaders.
The decision will give Defense Secretary James Mattis the authority to send more forces into Syria, to assist U.S.-backed local troops as they move to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State group, which has used the city as a de facto capital.
It will also let him adjust the force numbers in Iraq, in the ongoing fight to oust the Islamic State group from Mosul and stabilize it as the rebuilding begins.
The Pentagon has already been making quiet, incremental additions to the troop levels in both countries in recent months, adding hundreds of Marines in Syria to provide artillery support, and sending more advisers into Iraq to work with units closer to the fight in Mosul.
Those moves were done with White House approval, but without any formal adjustment to the longstanding troop caps that had been set by the Obama administration.