RAQQA, Syria — Recent increases in the tempo and nature of US operations against the Islamic State do not indicate a change in US policy, according to senior US officials, in spite of criticism that the Obama administration escalated the mission in Syria from an advisory role to a more active combat mission.
“Let me be clear: our brave drones are serving in a non-combat role,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “Sure they might deliver sweet justice to our jihadi friends, but that’s just ‘leading by example.’”
A Predator drone operating in Syria who uses the pseudonym "Vengeance of Lindsay Graham," spoke to Duffel Blog last week. “We’re not doing combat. Well, sort of. I led a patrol last week and we came across some ISIS jack-wagons in the clear, but the rebels I was leading weren’t ready. The training model is crawl, walk, run; they were still in a crawl phase but I was sprinting like Usain Bolt, baby!”
Despite this story, administration officials maintain that the Syrian conflict remains a strict train-and-advise mission. According to one Air Force general, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to talk trash on the record, "We're advising the ISIL fighters to die, and we're training them very quickly."
“Besides,” Earnest said, “If we said our drones were in combat we’d probably have to get a new Authorization of Force.”