The head of the US Senate house international affairs committee, Senator John McCain, has claimed that American military presence in Iraq and Syria needs to be increased to 20,000 troops and officers. This size of force would be able to be deployed in a ground operation. Majority public opinion in the USA does not support such an operation. Russian military experts believe such calls for increased American military involvement in Syria arose after the success of Russia's military operations there.
The current US military contingent in Iraq numbers some 3000 officers and men, while in Syria the USA has only 50 special-operations troops.
McCain and his Senate colleague – the influential Republican Lindsey Graham – don't hide their support for beginning new American military ground-operation interventions in both countries. “The only hope of destroying the Caliphate is by bringing in ground troops. The campaign of air strikes will not affect the way the battle goes” said Graham, in an interview cited by Reuters.
Many observers have noted that Graham's call for ground operations could be part of his own political campaigning – Graham is currently seeking the Republican party nomination. Meanwhile US President Barack Obama has no inclination to get involved in ground-based warfare again – knowing the American public doesn't support it. According to popular opinion polls carried out by the Gallup social network service in mid-November, 53% of Americans oppose the onset of military operations in Syria. Although 43% of Americans were in favor.
Research analysts commented on the poll result that a great majority of those who support military action are Republican voters. It should be remembered that Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier given a categorical denial regarding possible military ground operations in Syria. The president said that Russian aerospace operations will be supporting the Syrian army, which is warring with Islamist forces on the ground.
Nevertheless, many experts predict that Russia will be forced to begin a ground-based operation in Syria sooner or later – but the difficulty lies in the lack of coordination between the many different forces on the ground. If such an operation were to go ahead, the USA would be forced into collaborative efforts with the Syrian army which supports President Assad – something which many of those involved in the operation would find unacceptable.
Alexander Perendzhiev, an analyst from the Association of Military Political Commentators, notes that the interests of the Western coalition in carrying out ground operations “arose following the successful results of Russia's military intervention. Previously it was considered that conditions were unfavorable.” Experts believe the second reason is the West's fear that the Syrian army might take control of the country's oil-fields — which are of great interest to the Western coalition. On this topic Perendzhiev recognizes that the Syrian forces have scored little success on the ground – the main Islamist outposts, despite all the bombings, have not been retaken.
A vital factor for the success of the Syrian operation is the hope of uniting the ranks of the Russian and Western forces in the struggle against ISIL. The main proponent of this idea is President Hollande of France, who has discussed it over the past week with the presidents of both the USA and Russia. But while the differing sides cannot reach an agreement, France and Russia have issued statements about coordinating their operations against ISIL in Syria.
Concerning the necessity of a global anti-terrorist front – in which Russia must take part — Steffen Seibert, a German government official made a statement to this effect this week. To judge from stories in the German press, the German authorities are considering the option of sending up to 1200 troops of the Bundeswehr to Syria. This step, however, would need the formal approval of the German parliament.