As far as the potential US contingent, Ashton Carter is not talking about a major operation, but rather trainers and advisors, with perhaps some special forces who could potentially engage enemy forces.
Last week, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that American troops would be deployed in Iraq and Syria as part of the strategy to fight ISIL. "We're looking for opportunities to do more, and there will be boots on the ground," he told CNBC during the Davos forum.
Dmitry Gorenburg, Senior Analyst and Director of Russian and East European Programs with the CNA Corporation told Valdaiclub.com what this announcement could mean in strategic terms.
“I wouldn't make too much of this statement,” Gorenburg said in a comment sent by e-mail. “It is not that different from his statement in October, when he said that the US should begin "direct action on the ground." I think it is based on the realization that a) air strikes are not sufficient to counter ISIL and b) local ground forces need US assistance to be effective. He also made it clear that he is talking about an international force, not necessarily one that consists primarily of US troops.”
In his interview to CNBC Carter said the United States was prepared to do “a great deal” on the ground, because America has “the finest fighting force the world has ever seen”. “The United States does not ask people for favours, but we don't grant favours either, and so we're looking for other people to play their part," he added.
Gorenburg believes the scope of a possible ground operation with US troops involved does not require authorization by the US Congress or discussion at the UN Security Council. “As far as the potential US contingent, he is not talking about a major operation, but rather trainers and advisors, with perhaps some special forces who could potentially engage enemy forces,” the scholar said. “This level of effort would not require additional authorization from Congress and would be unlikely to rise to the level of discussion in the UNSC,” he explained.
When asked if Carter’s statement may have been prompted by Russia’s air operation in Syria or the urge to improve the position of al-Assad’s opponents at the intra-Syrian talks, Gorenburg said the primary focus here was Iraq, rather than Syria. “Therefore I don't think this is directly related to either Russia's operation in Syria or to the position of anti-Assad groups at the prospective peace talks,” he concluded.