On May 25th, it was reported that United States Special Forces soldiers were seen on the front lines in Syria. Photographs were taken by the Agence France-Presse, showing them in the village of Fatisah. They wore US uniforms and the unit patches of the YPG, or the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit.
Suddenly the official role of the US troops being one where they are not involved in direct combat was out the window. How do you respond to such an audacious claim with pictures and video? The way that the government sometimes does best – change the story.
In a new report from the Pentagon, the Special Forces soldiers in Syria have been banned from wearing the patches of the Kurdish rebel group they are fighting alongside. This is obviously not the response that was expected from the government. Special Forces focus on embedding with foreign military units, building trust, and advising them in battle. So why is this the response?
The reason is that Turkey, one of the powerful regional allies, recognizes the YPG as a terrorist group. This contrasts to the United States’ stance of the YPG being one of the most powerful allies on the ground actually taking part in the fight against ISIS. These contradictions highlight the problem with fighting a war through regional proxies. There are no good choices, only less bad ones. Each regional partner comes with its own baggage, its own problems, and they generally are not quiet about their biases.
The fight against ISIS has not stopped at regionally drawn borders, and extends across many fronts. While ISIS is losing ground, they are an ideological group. This means they can pop up somewhere else, claiming allegiance to the ideas behind ISIS. It underscores the need to have regional alliances. They provide the ability to influence operations in multiple countries simultaneously and take the fight to ISIS.
The military response is one of the few combat operations that has seen the United States and Russia as direct allies. While the United States also supports rebel groups attempting to overthrow the Syrian government, Russia supports the Syrian government retaking power. The Syrian government fights the United States in public statements and cries of injustice, while also fighting ISIS which overran their military base at Raqqa and declared it their capitol. The United States arms and trains anti-government groups that it hopes are moderate, although some have demonstrated they are much less moderate than desired.
This kind of fighting is more similar to the great alliances of World War I, where indirect agreements between countries resulted in unexpected allies and enemies across the world. That the United States Special Forces are in fact participating in combat is no surprise to military members – both active and retired. They understand what it means to go to war officially and unofficially. More interesting is the fact that, instead of addressing the elephant in the room, we have chosen to address the fact that there is a water spot on the knife on a table in the corner – chastising the Special Forces soldiers for wearing a non-standard unit patch.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.