Caution needed to protect troops

Members of U.S. military special operations units are very, very good at what they do. But they are not that good. They simply will not be numerous enough to do what President Barack Obama apparently expects.

Fifty special-ops troops are being sent to Syria to battle the Islamic State terrorists, it was revealed last week. That breaks Obama’s own pledge to keep U.S. ground forces out of Syria.

Changing situations sometimes excuse such shifts – but only if realistic tactics and strategies are used.

It was foolish for Obama to believe, that U.S. airpower could defeat the IS in Syria and Iraq. It also was unrealistic to believe the Iraqi army and anti-IS rebels fighting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad could do the job alone.

But sending a tiny force of just 50 U.S. troops into battle against the IS probably is too little, too late.

Again, our special-ops forces are exceptionally effective. No doubt they will score a few impressive victories, perhaps in killing or capturing top IS leaders.

But the nature of Islamic terrorist groups is that those leaders will be replaced quickly. Meanwhile, the 50 American fighters are simply too few to do much against thousands of IS fanatics.

Extreme caution must be exercised, then, to ensure the tiny U.S. force does not become the hunted, rather than the hunters.