This segment originally aired March 14, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
The U.S. is expanding its military role in Syria, even though the Trump administration has yet to lay out an official strategy to defeat ISIS there. Hundreds of U.S. Marines are reportedly being deployed to Syria as part of ongoing preparations to flush ISIS from its headquarters in Raqqa. The Marines will join several hundred American troops already on the ground assisting local Syrian forces.
Later this month, the Trump administration will host more than 60 countries and international organizations for a strategy meeting on efforts to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group. Peter Mandaville, former senior adviser to the State Department, told VICE News that the administration’s decision to “reconvene the global coalition to combat ISIL is a positive thing.” But Trump has given few details on his strategy and it is unclear how cooperative European countries will be after Trump’s repeated criticism of NATO.
There are currently about 6,000 U.S. troops and special forces already on the ground in Syria, Iraq, and Kuwait in what officials say are largely advisory roles. But, “if they were to move [U.S. forces] to more of a front-line and combat role, that would suggest a significant alteration to the strategy itself,” said Mandaville.