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Amazingly, over the last three years, just five Americans have been killed in action in Syria and Iraq.The marriage of local ground forces with U.S. drones, warplanes and intelligence has been potent. Linda Robinson, a Rand Corp. analyst who spent weeks observing the fight this spring in Iraq and Syria, wrote in a recent blog post that the U.S. has found "a new way of warfighting". Credit for this innovative campaign goes to the U.S. military, which became increasingly confident after a slow start; to President Obama, who sent thousands of U.S. troops to Iraq and Syria despite public wariness; and to President Trump, who delegated decisions to the military in ways that accelerated the campaign. In Iraq, the U.S. has relied on two battle-hardened forces: the Iraqi army's Counter Terrorism Service and the Kurdish peshmerga. In Syria, America's decisive allies have been the Kurdish militia known as the YPG. Rather than build the ideal force on a U.S. model, commanders adapted.Back in 2012, the CIA conducted a study that argued that American support for such local forces had rarely worked.
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