By Debbie Gregory.
Defense Secretary James Mattis now has more flexibility in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State after President Trump granted the Pentagon new authorities to determine the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq and Syria.
Known as the force management level, or “FML,” the number of troops deployed to either country is sent to Congress, and updated anytime there are major force deployments, which is intended to promote transparency.
“Restoring FML decisions to the Secretary of Defense enables military commanders to be more agile, adaptive and efficient in supporting our partners, and enables decisions that benefit unit readiness, cohesion and lethality,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said
Previously, the White House had retained control regarding setting troop levels under both the Obama and Bush administrations. Previous defense secretaries Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel complained about being “micromanaged” by White House officials on military matters.
Since his Senate confirmation hearings, Mattis has made clear that he is looking for ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIS.
Trump has outsourced a lot of decision making power to other departments. The decision to drop the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, referred to as the “mother of all bombs” on ISIS in Afghanistan, was made by the DoD.
The Pentagon will not routinely announce or confirm information about force numbers, locations, or troop movements in or out of Iraq and Syria.
Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for U.S. forces for Iraq and Syria said, “With regard to the number of forces that are going into Syria, and their exact locations, what they’re doing, their comings and goings, the exact capabilities we’re bringing in, the coalition is really not going to get into the business of giving play-by-play updates on those, on those capabilities.”
However, other defense officials suggest this move will allow military commanders to be more transparent with both Congress and the public.