File - In this March 21, 2015 photo, Iraqi security forces participate in a drill as U.S. forces train them in Taji, north of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
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No one disputes that U.S. military forces are fighting in combat in Iraq and Syria – except maybe President Barack Obama and some members of his administration. The semantic arguments over whether there are American "boots on the ground" muddy the view of a situation in which several thousand armed U.S. military personnel are in Iraq and Syria.So, when is a military boot on the ground?Q: ARE U.S. MILITARY TROOPS IN IRAQ?Obama recently authorized an increase in the number of troops that can deploy to Iraq to advise and assist Iraqi forces in fighting Daesh (ISIS).Q: ARE U.S. MILITARY TROOPS IN SYRIA?Last week the Pentagon announced an increase in the number of U.S. forces working in Syria from 50 to 300 . Those troops are working with local Syrian forces and are mainly Army Special Forces, but the latest increase will also include medical and logistics units.Saying there are "no U.S. boots on the ground" – while inaccurate – is meant to convey the administration's view that U.S. troops are not on the front lines waging the war. Instead, U.S. troops are advising and assisting the Iraqi and Syrian forces, providing training, intelligence and logistical support from behind the battlefront.
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