Marines tasked with firing howitzers in Syria are just “advisers,” says Sean Spicer
Alex Emmons, Intercept, Mar 10 2017
The Pentagon has deployed several hundred marines to northern Syria, the WaPo and CNN reported this week. Their mission, firing long-range artillery to help recapture Raqqa. The marines are equipped with M777 howitzers, which can fire GPS-guided explosives up to 25 miles. That’s a big change from the “train, advise and assist” role Pindo forces have been playing so far, although as with many previous troop deployments to Iraq and Syria, it was not debated, let alone authorized, by Congress. But White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer brushed off a question about the move, saying that sending “several hundred advisers” did not amount to “hostile action.” Reporter John Fredericks asked Spicer on Thursday whether Trump was committed to seeking Congressional authorization for new deployments. Spicer replied:
I think there’s a big difference between an authorization of war than sending a few hundred advisors, and I think most in Congress would probably agree with that as well. I think that’s a big difference between a hostile action and going in to address some certain concerns, whether it’s certain countries in the Middle East or elsewhere.
Marines spox Maj Adrian Rankine-Galloway disputed Spicer’s characterization, explaining that the new deployment would fire long range artillery in an assault on Raqqa. He said:
This is fire support. They will be providing partner support for the SDF.
When Obama deployed 250 SOF to Syria in Apr 2016, despite repeatedly promising not to put Pindo “boots on the ground” in Syria, State Dept spox Adm John Kirby tried to parse the meaning of “boots on the ground” to exclude SOF. The Pentagon has maintained that the fight against Daesh is authorized by a 2001 Congressional resolution, which authorizes the President to use “necessary and appropriate force” against the “nations, organizations, or persons” involved in the 9/11 attacks. Multipl Congress critturs of both sexes have criticized the resolution because it has been stretched to cover numerous terror groups that did not exist at the time of the 9/11 attacksm but the Obama administration long insisted that it did not need independent authorization to fight Daesh.