Hush Hush: Pentagon Remains Tight-Lipped About Troop Numbers In Syria, Iraq

Posted: August 13, 2016 in Uncategorized
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The Pentagon is refusing to release the precise number of troops it has stationed on the ground in Syria and Iraq.

While the Pentagon does supply Force Management Level numbers for full-time deployments to those countries, claiming about 3,800 troops in Iraq, and 300 in Syria, these numbers do not include temporary troops or indicate the actual number of troops on the ground. An additional 800 to 900 service people have been deployed to Iraq temporarily, but one defense official says this number “tends to run around.”

A Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman acknowledged that people deployed temporarily aren’t always counted, including officers on “personnel visits.”

As the White House is criticized for its strategy of fighting Daesh, and as Congress seems unlikely to declare war, some feel that the Pentagon is withholding numbers to obscure an increased US military presence in Iraq and Syria. Officials have rejected numerous requests from the press to release exact figures.

“There’s been a decision made not to release that number,” Army Spokesman Col. Steve Warren said. “The number that we release is our force management level… I don’t have a reason for not releasing this number other than it’s the orders that I’m under.”

Days later, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. told reporters that the Pentagon has been withholding troop numbers for the last 15 years, and that’s it not a matter of reluctance on the part of the defense center.

“We do not release those numbers due to the fluid nature of their presence; those numbers fluctuate on a daily basis,” CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Michael Meyer said.

One unofficial tally of US military personnel deployed to fight Daesh in Syria and Iraq puts the number at around 8,000, but it is difficult to be accurate, given the military’s use of troops and contractors throughout the region.

Under caps set by US President Barack Obama, the Pentagon has the ability to send 422 troops at any time, and plans to send 400 to Iraq soon, bringing the total number to 5,847, a good deal more than FML numbers released to the public.

Some lawmakers feel that the use of temporary contractors and troops is a tactic President Obama is using to avoid his own deployment caps.

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said at a March hearing, “If you are rotating people in every 30 days or whatever it is to keep below the troop caps then the people who are rotating in are not going to have time to get acclimated to the environment and may be at increased risk.”

CENTCOM has stated that an additional 700 troops were sent to the region to fight Daesh, but Col. Warren stated publicly that there are “several thousand others throughout the region and 1000s more back home.” This number does not include over 1,600 American contractors in Iraq. The number of contractors in Syria is unknown.


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