U.S. Military Says It’s Not Finished With ISIS in Syria Even as Trump Pushes for Exit by Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne – Washington Post
The Pentagon’s mission against the Islamic State in Syria remains open-ended despite President Trump’s promise of a quick U.S. withdrawal.
Military leaders are focusing on pushing the once-powerful group out of the small foothold it controls in eastern Syria and ensuring that it cannot plot attacks against the United States, a task defense officials have suggested will require a U.S. footprint after the fighting stops.
What remains unclear is how the military will reconcile its vision with that of the president, whose distrust of foreign wars and desire to demonstrate a swift victory were evident in the past week as he vowed that U.S. troops would depart Syria “very soon.”
“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home,” Trump said. “It’s time.”
Public and private comments reveal a gap regarding America’s future role in Syria. Military leaders, mindful of the fleeting nature of earlier military gains in Iraq and Afghanistan, have spoken repeatedly of the need for a robust post-conflict agenda.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, predicted that the “hard part” lies ahead, as Syrian towns and cities now free of the Islamic State seek to rebuild and ensure that militants cannot return…