“This is an important capability because it takes advantage of what we are good at,” Carter, testifying alongside General Joseph Dunford, told the House Armed Services Committee, according to The Guardian. “We’re good at intelligence. We’re good at mobility. We’re good at surprise. We have the long reach that no one else has.”
There are currently about 3,300 American troops in Iraq, the Associated Press reports, and President Obama has previously set the maximum number of U.S. troops at 3,350. Carter, however, did not specify exactly how many troops this special operations force would include. He did say that it will be “larger” than 50.
“This is an important capability because it takes advantage of what we’re good at,” the secretary said. “We’re good at intelligence, we’re good at mobility, we’re good at surprise. We have the long reach that no one else has. And it puts everybody on notice in Syria. You don’t know at night who’s going to be coming in the window. And that’s the sensation that we want all of ISIL’s leadership and followers to have.”
Dunford, meanwhile, doesn’t think the president’s force limit needs to be applied. “I do not believe we are limited by the number 3,500,” the general said. “We are managing 3,500 because that’s the number of troops that the president has approved to date, but I can assure you that I don’t feel at all inhibited in making recommendations that would cause us to grow greater than 3,500.”
“I told [Baghdad-based] General MacFarland as recently as 10 days ago to not be inhibited at all in identifying capabilities he needs regardless of the force management figure.”