The commando force that President Barack Obama is dispatching to Iraq to conduct clandestine raids against the ISIS group does not fit neatly into a picture of the U.S. military strategy for defeating the extremist army.
Even the name — “specialized expeditionary targeting force” — is a bit of a riddle.
The main point is that the force is intended to ratchet up pressure on the ISIS by using a small group of special operations troops — possibly fewer than 100 — to more aggressively use intelligence information, to include capturing and killing the group’s leaders. In theory, this would generate even more and better intelligence, feeding what the military calls a “virtuous cycle” of intelligence-driven air and ground operations.
It will be combat, but on a relatively small scale. Obama remains opposed to major U.S. ground combat in Iraq or Syria. Several weeks ago the administration said it would send up to 50 special operations troops to Syria as trainers and advisers.