In recent days the Department of Defense has announced a largely PR-driven “offensive” against the ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria. The reality is that the local forces, the Kurdish YPG militia, is nowhere near ready to take Raqqa as they have other pressing concerns in Jarabulus. Kurdish guerrillas also have bigger problems to worry about as violence between the Kurds, including the PKK and various youth groups, has flared up with the Turkish military.
Whatever the case, it is amazing how asleep at the wheel most Americans are when it comes to what their soldiers are doing in Syria. Keep in mind that it isn’t any secret that US Special Forces are in country, the White House has been very transparent that 50, and later 250, SOF personnel were being deployed there to assist the YPG in their fight against ISIS. These facts have been well reported here at SOFREP and by major media outlets the world over.
And somehow, when pictures emerged of US Special Forces soldiers working alongside the YPG 20-40 kilometers outside of Raqqa, some are acting shocked and even offended. Charles Lister, a fellow at the Middle East Institute, wrote that it was quite remarkable to see American Special Forces advisors on the front lines wearing YPG patches. Four or five years behind the power curve, he also points out that the YPG is an affiliate of the PKK, which is on America’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Michael Weiss, who authored a book about ISIS, notes that the YPG patch has similarities to the PKK patch. I guess he is unaware of the CIA’s on again, off again relationship with the PKK going back decades. Another academic named Emile Hokayem described the Green Berets wearing YPG patches as, “politically tone deaf.”
All of this nonsense speaks to the fact that the public simply does not understand the Special Forces mission. Furthermore, academics should stay in their safe spaces and refrain from telling our soldiers that they zigged when they should have zagged.
For US Special Forces soldiers, wearing the patch of your host-nation counterpart is absolutely commonplace. This occurs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and many other countries around the world. The reason is simple, when you fight together, you fight together. You go all in with your host-nation partners or not at all. During the Vietnam war MACV-SOG soldiers built strong personal relationships with the Montagnards whom they affectionally called “little people” because of their small stature.
Our Green Berets are serving in an exceedingly difficult area of operations, filled with pitfalls, double crosses, political intrigue, and bureaucratic restrictions and yet they are doing what Special Forces do, building rapport with the locals, the YPG, who happen to be the most effective fighting against ISIS in Syria.
The hand wringing academics should take a step back, check their privilege, and let actual men do the dirty business that they need to do rather than sharpshooting their actions without any understanding of how unconventional warfare is conducted.
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