Some 200 US troops are headed to Jordan, where some US troops are already stationed. So why is this deployment notable? How it's being played:
- The Los Angeles Times pulls no punches in its explanation: "The move marks the first deployment that Pentagon officials explicitly described as a possible step toward direct military involvement in Syria."
- The Washington Post is a bit more tentative in its reporting, calling the move indicative of "a higher level of preparation for a possible expanded US military role.'
Chuck Hagel yesterday announced the deployment; most troops will arrive next month, and will install a modest HQ near the Syrian border. If necessary, the force could quickly be inflated to 20,000 or more troops should the US decide it must step in militarily, though Hagel was quick to express there is no eagerness to do so.
A large-scale deployment could "embroil the US in a significant, lengthy, and uncertain military commitment," Hagel noted. "Military intervention is always an option, but it should be an option of last resort." However, he noted that the current approach the US is taking on Syria "hasn't achieved the objective, obviously. That's why we continue to look for other options and other ways to do this." Also notable: US-allied Jordan hasn't previously allowed much of a US military presence, the Times reports. Amid fears of an expanding war, however, it has agreed to accommodate at least the initial deployment, officials say.