October 30, 2015

Heinrich not on board with plan to put boots on the ground in Syria

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U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Official photo.

New Mexico’s junior U.S. Senator is not on board with a White House plan to send special operations troops to Syria.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Official photo.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. Official photo.

Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, sent a letter to President Barack Obama outlining why he thinks putting troops, even a limited amount, on the ground in the Syrian conflict is a bad idea.

“Imagine the scenario in which American forces are deployed alongside Syrian opposition forces and come into combat with ISIL, who are also being targeted by Russian and Syrian military forces via land and air,” Heinrich wrote. “The margin for error diminishes considerably, and the consequences of either accidental or intentional fire on our ground forces–or Russian and Syrian forces–expand greatly.”

Heinrich says that a mistake would likely result in retaliation.

Heinrich’s full letter is available at the bottom of this post.

In the letter, Heinrich also acknowledges that Congress should have voted on a new Authorization for Use of Military Force instead of allowing the White House to rely on those passed nearly 15 years ago.

“The lack of will from Congress to vote on a new AUMF amounts to a total dereliction of its duties and responsibilities,” Heinrich said. “I remain committed to supporting an updated AUMF that is narrow in scope and duration and we will continue to insist on its consideration.”

In the past, Obama has said that there would not be American troops on the ground in Syria.

According to the Washington Post, the plan calls for fewer than 50 Special Operations Advisors who will not be taking place in direct combat.

From the Post‘s story:

The troops’ main focus will be advising Syrian Arab and Kurdish forces who have fought to within 30 miles of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital, and are expected to attack the city in the near future.

The push against Raqqa, if it yields results, would mark a major victory for the forces battling the Islamic State.

Still Heinrich says this is not the right tactic.

“ISIL has barbarically killed and tortured many innocent civilians,” Heinrich said. “We must work with our coalition allies to eliminate ISIL, but we should learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid taking actions where the risks and costs far outweigh the benefits.

“I firmly believe that the deployment of American ground forces in Syria is not the solution.”

Heinrich Letter to President Obama on Syria