Senator Schatz on Syria – Policy is a Strategic Mistake

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement on the Administration’s announcement that it will deploy a small number of Special Operations Forces to Syria:

Senator Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

Senator Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

“The Administration’s announcement that it will deploy Special Operations Forces into Syria to combat ISIL marks a major shift in U.S. policy—a shift that is occurring without congressional debate, is unlikely to succeed in achieving our objective of defeating ISIL and instead threatens to embroil the United States in Syria’s civil war and could bring us into direct confrontation with the Russian Federation military and Syrian government forces.

“In the 16-months since the United States began its participation in the regional fight against ISIL, our military involvement has escalated without a clear sense of how our escalating involvement will achieve our strategic objectives.  With ISIL’s control of northern Syria, we cannot reasonably expect that the deployment of Special Operations Forces would be limited in scope or duration.

“As we have seen from our failed train and equip program, U.S. support for moderate Syrian opposition has its limits. Rather than ratchet up our own involvement, we must look for other opportunities to strengthen the coalition’s ability to effectively prosecute the fight against ISIL.

“This shift in policy is a strategic mistake.  Regardless of my views, the War Powers Resolution requires Congress to debate and authorize the escalation of U.S. military involvement in Syria.”