President Trump is giving Defense Secretary James Mattis the leeway he needs to get the job done. It is now up to Mattis to control the number of U.S. troops placed in Iraq and Syria. The move will allow Mattis and the Pentagon the ability to send U.S. troops over to back the local troops fighting ISIS as needed.
There has already been an escalation in the number of troops sent in the last three months in an effort to contain ISIS and prevent them from spreading into new territory.
Previously, the Obama administration had integrated a troop cap that limited the number of troops that could be in those two countries. One defense official who is close to the matter simply said the decision gives Mattis “more flexibility” to dispose of ISIS and their affiliates.
The Pentagon has already confirmed that they have more than the 503 troop cap in Syria and are well over the 5,262 cap for Iraq, according to The New York Times.
Government officials have been tight-lipped on the actual number of troops in Iraq as it could incite violence from those opposing the government there, according to the Military Times.
Now with Mattis in control, commanders can make the necessary decisions without so many restrictions. Commanders and military personnel alike argued that the troop cap made movement of soldiers more complicated as they had to get constant approval for routine decisions.
Chief spokesperson for the Pentagon, Dana White, issued a statement regarding the president decision stating that this will only affect troops in Iraq and Syria. There are no plans to put excess troops in Afghanistan.
“This does not represent a change in our mission in Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS,” she said. Mattis receiving additional power and responsibility is something that was not unseen.
Mattis has been Trump’s right-hand man for military and tactical decision making. By giving Mattis full control of the military, ISIS can expect to have more bombs dropped and more doors kicked in.