At the New York Times:
The U.S. military is becoming more involved in a string of complex wars in the Middle East https://t.co/P6gACx0M7d— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 30, 2017
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The United States launched more airstrikes in Yemen this month than during all of last year. In Syria, it has airlifted local forces to front-line positions and has been accused of killing civilians in airstrikes. In Iraq, American troops and aircraft are central in supporting an urban offensive in Mosul, where airstrikes killed scores of people on March 17.The massive recent civilian causalities are extremely regrettable, and totally unacceptable. Otherwise, I'm really liking the growing footprint.
Two months after the inauguration of President Trump, indications are mounting that the United States military is deepening its involvement in a string of complex wars in the Middle East that lack clear endgames.
Rather than representing any formal new Trump doctrine on military action, however, American officials say that what is happening is a shift in military decision-making that began under President Barack Obama. On display are some of the first indications of how complicated military operations are continuing under a president who has vowed to make the military “fight to win.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the commander of United States Central Command, said the new procedures made it easier for commanders in the field to call in airstrikes without waiting for permission from more senior officers.
“We recognized the nature of the fight was going to change and that we had to ensure that authorities were down to the right level and that we empowered the on-scene commander,” General Votel said. He was speaking specifically about discussions that he said began in November about how the fights in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State were reaching critical phases in Mosul and Raqqa.
Concerns about the recent accusations of civilian casualties are bringing some of these details to light. But some of the shifts have also involved small increases in the deployment and use of American forces or, in Yemen, resuming aid to allies that had previously been suspended.
And they coincide with the settling in of a president who has vowed to intensify the fight against extremists abroad, and whose budgetary and rhetorical priorities have indicated a military-first approach even as he has proposed cuts in diplomatic spending...