US Protection of Syrian Oilfields Orders Keep the Commanders Waiting

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The White House and the Pentagon have created confusion for US army commanders in Syria. Approximately three weeks ago, the US President Donald Trump ordered military troops out of Northern Syria. Trump openly stated that he was taking charge of the oil in Syria and sent armored carriers and troops to guard it from ISIS. US military commanders are still waiting for precise battlefield briefings and orders from their commander-in-chief on their exact task to protect the oil. According to a direct official who is conversant with the issue, the US commanders lack clarity on the best basic features of their mission and their immediate plan of action. These include when and how the troops can fire their armaments.

The lack of exact orders from their superiors in Washington means the troops will stay on the battlefield while the critical specifics are being worked on. This includes their organization in patrol. As said by an official, the information is essential to the troops on the ground and in the air to understand their mission well. The confusion affects military planners in terms of knowing the number of aircrafts needed. Moreover, the number of US battle ground forces required in the existing command structure is not clear. The confusion comes in after Trump’s hasty and startling decision after a phone call with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president. The decision caught many in the army off guard and is extensively seen as strengthening Syria, Iran, ISIS, turkey and Russia. In addition, it is a betrayal to Kurdish forces who battled the terrorist group side-on-side with the US.

The US army is left without a defined task on how they should protect other oil fields beyond their current position in Dier Ezzor. At a Pentagon press conference, Mark Esper, Defense Secretary, said that there have been no verdicts made on the battlefield task of US troops. Confidentially, military decision makers say that there is no likelihood that Russian or Syrian tanks may approach the oil fields.

William Wechsler said that troops require answers to these questions. The US troops were getting out until some Republicans convinced Trump to protect the oil. This has since become Trump’s main argument. Defense officials said that the military’s view of the mission is to guard against any invasions. This will enable SDF to prevent ISIS gain of the oil fields. The number of current troops in Syria are between 900 and 1000 following last month’s initial withdrawal. The number is expected to fluctuate with time.

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