Recent comments from SOCOM Commander, General Thomas about asking the YPG to rebrand itself demonstrates a lack of cultural awareness and “ground truth” as the YPG itself was a re-brand from the PKK, a very intentional one at the beginning of the war.  Having the YPG fold itself up into a new acronym called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a silly turn of the phrase that does nothing to convince enemies or allies of anything.  Turkey certainly is not fooled by such a re-branding and anyone who has spent time on the ground in Syria knows that the YPG and YPJ are the real forces behind SDF.  I would speculate that these re-branding efforts must mean something to people in Washington and London, because they have little impact on the battlefield. -Jack Murphy

Speaking on a panel at the Aspen Security Forum, Gen. Raymond Thomas, the commander of  US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), said the U.S. asked the People’s Protection Unit, or YPG, to re-brand because of its alleged linkages to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), an internationally designated terrorist group.

“We literally replied back to them and said you got to change your brand,” Thomas said.

The SOCOM commander was responding to questions from Catherine Herridge, chief intelligence correspondent for Fox News, about how the U.S. military finds partner forces in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS are currently called the Syrian Democratic Forces, but they were “formerly called the YPG,” Thomas said during the interview.

“They came about that name because at one point in time, and I’ve dealt with them directly … they were formerly called the YPG, who the Turks would say equated to the PKK, you’re dealing with a terrorist enemy of mine,” Thomas said.

The YPG changed their name to the SDF in about a day, Thomas explained, saying that it was “a stroke of brilliance” to include “democracy” in their title.

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Read the rest at the Military Times.

(Lead image courtesy of Jack Murphy)