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tv   MSNBC Live With Tamron Hall  MSNBC  October 30, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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isis. the u.s. we're learning will deploy a small number of special operation forces that announcement follows defense secretary ash carter's remarks early this week warning the u.s. would step up attacks against isis including "direct action on the ground." carter's comments eluding to the u.s.-backed raid to free isis hostages in iraq last week. now the shift comes weeks after the pentagon announced it was ending its program to train moderate syrian rebels. joining me now from the white house, nbc's ron allen. we're also joined by michael mcfall, former u.s. ambassador to the russian federation and msnbc contributor and nbc military analyst colonel jack jacobs. lay this out for us. this came as a surprise that we're hearing this today and not hearing it from the president. >> i think we're not going to hear from the president because the administration does not want you emphasize this too much. although, it's hard not to emphasize a change like this.
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but clearly, things are happening and things are going to be different in syria and in northern iraq. will are indications that things are going to be different. perhaps the most revealing is that video released of that raid on that isis prison where master sergeant josh wheeler lost his life. people saw what was actually happening in iraq. and syria. and at that point, secretary carter described the soldier's death happening in combat. that is something the president and the administration has tried not to use. today and in recent days, the spokesperson here for example has been using that word because
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it's clear that things were not going well in the war against isis. and something had to change. so we have these military steps that are going to be announced, we believe, shortly here to say that the united states is ramping up its operations. in terms of the number of troops, we understand from briefings that there's a cap essentially on the number of troops overall in iraq at about 3300 or so. and the special operations force that is in northern syria is about 50 or so. but, of course, those numbers could change and we're not being given a lot of details as you never are about military operations. there is a separate diplomatic track happening here. secretary kerry and others meeting with everyone who has a stake in the syria conflict in vee yaen today including for the first time the iranians who are perhaps along with the russians
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certainly the most important ally of the syrian government. so while the united states is saying that they don't expect a lot to come out of the meetings, they are clearly also saying that this is a twin tracked effort, diplomacy and ramped up military operations to change the configuratioconfiguration, hopefully solve this problem that's happening in syria and has been going on now for several years with some quarter million people who lost their lives. also in recent weeks we've seen an explosion of the refugee migrant crisis that is happening in europe. i think raised an opened a lot of eyes to what's happening there. just yesterday the greek government, for example, reported they had conducted their largest rescue operation in the mediterranean sea to date of some 250 people who are still streaming out of syria in huge numbers. so you have a lot of things
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happening that perhaps when you look at it from that context suggest that this is not real a surprise. it's a reaction to very fast moving events on the ground. >> ron, stay with us. i want to bring in our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. she's live in washington. give us a sense. there are all the interesting tidbits when we look at the timing. perhaps most interesting, of course, is this meeting in vienna where secretary kerry is and we're seeing these efforts is this aligned to hept message that could be sent with this announcement? >> it's to send a message of strength. and there very little arguably of any strength in term of the military success of the u.s. operations so far. so as to show there is military muscle here that there's not just russia and iran militarily propping up assad on the other side of the equation. otherwise what leverage does kerry have at the negotiating
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table? the u.s. has been sort of kind of outfox bid vladimir putin. we've seen the moves he's made since the u.n. speech and then immedia meetings with the president. they start air strikes. right now russia feels like they're calling the shots and there does need to be some kind of american military show of force is the argument. so they can even begin to have these talks towards a negotiated solution that the u.s. still hopes will lead to assad being replaced by an interim government. >> how important are the optics on this announcement? you point thought is a show of strength to give -- and could give kerry perhaps a little more leverage. the fact this is scheduled to come with a white house press briefing that we were expecting and not, in fact, prt president himself. does that influence the impact of this? >> well, clearly they don't want
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another image of the president again acknowledging a change in the military posture towards syria and assad. we have enough individual dwroe already, video clips of the president announcing the withdrawals, saying we're, now he pursuing another strategy. so the last thing they want is for the president of the united states to be announcing this himself. if they can avoid that, then have secretary kerry following up, the good soldier that he is in term of taking assignments from this white house, this that is a better way for them to announce this change. what the president is doing is calling all the sunni allies in the persian gulf and trying to explain why iran is at the table. >> i want to bring in richard engel. richard joins thus morning from istanbul. turkey could really figure prominently within all of this.
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the relationships in syria as we know are so complicated. not just in terms of the syrian government and kurds and isis but also in terms of turkey. lay some of that out for us, richard, and the challenges that could be faced in that respect. >> well, turkey is going to be directly involved in this intensified campaign because the white house is going to announce very soon is a three pronged approach. one sending special operations forces on the ground in syria working with militia groups to fight isis directly. the second part of the intensified strategy is basing a rapid reaction force. unclear how large it will be. it will be bigger than the dozens of troops that are going into syria in northern iraq. and the third component is sending more combat aircraft to
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turkey to be based out of the interlick air base already some a-10s have arrived for that campaign. i've been told that f-15s are on their way. so as andrea is talking about, an extra show of force. we're really seeing three shows of force. one with the extra troops in northern iraq. the troops on the ground in syria, and the planes on the ground here in turkey. >> i want to bring in journal jack jacobs now. colonel, when you look at all of this and the way it's laid out this three prong approach that richard just fill us in on. what does that tell you in term of how long something like this could last and whether it's potentially setting the stage for a larger involvement? that's a question that many americans will have. >> one thing that we're trying to accomplish which is recruit and train people to fight, the
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assad regime has been an abject failure because we don't have enough people there to do it, or to establish liaison with people recruiting and training people inside syria. that hasn't worked. so we're sort of doubling down by sending more people there to do that. second, we're sending people to be forward air controllers among other things because you can't drop bombs on people if you don't have americans on the ground in order to make sure the targets are the right targets, to clear the targets, to make sure that we're not arbitrarily throwing bombs down. that's why we're sending more people. and, third, the rapid reaction force. what is that going to do? well, one of the things it can do, unfortunately, is to be in a position to bail out the
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americans who are already on the ground in syria if they get into trouble. so i expect that rapid reaction force is going to be of some significant size, maybe as much as a battalion. 500 to 700 people plus the associated support. is this going to mean that we are going to incrementally increase over time? maybe have even more people on the ground? >> yeah, it does. it means we have plans to increase the people we're sending now in all three of those missions. but particularly the most important thing is to make sure that we have sufficient people, special forces people, mobile training teams, people to support the special operations forces. they seek out and destroy isis cells, number one. and number two, to train
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indigenous forces so they can do the jobs themselves. and to get to the basic question, how long is this going to last? a long time. we're not going to do it and come nome a couple months. it's going to have to be quite a long time before we're able to decide that we've done our job and pull out. >> i want to bring in the ambassador to rush yachlt we're looking at the talks happening in vienna with secretary kerry. as we just heard that laid out, the plan, the possibility of there for a very long time perhaps increasing the number of forces from a diplomatic perspective, if you're in those meetings at this point, how helpful is this information for second kerry as he's trying to make the case for different moves with these other countries? >> well, it's helpful in the margins to echo something that andrea said a few moments ago, we have looked like we've been out of this game in syria.
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even though the facts are, we've bonling, we've had 7,000 air strikes over the last year. but with the russian intervention it looks like our people have been marginalized. and in particular, the sunni-arab fighters that we've been supporting have been targeted of the russians. it's a key american objective to not let them be pushed out of this and let this be a civil war between isil and assad. it's interesting to explore whether the forces will be with the kurds or whether they will also be in northern syria with the sunni fighters. that's a big difference. the second, it is about diplomacy. it is about trying to get a deal. i actually was in the last set of negotiations with the russians with secretary kerry a couple years ago. he thinks the time is now for a political transition for an
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agreement. i admire his focus on. this this will help in the marge toinz make the case. >> as the ambassador just laid out for us, a lot is going to figure on where those forces will be going. i want to bring in now our pentagon correspondent. what are you hearing in terms of where things will be focused? >> well, i first like to address something that ambassador brought up which is a critical point. there are hundreds of separate tribes. u.s. military and intelligence officials have told us over the past year or so that one of the problems is that on any given day, any one of those tribal groups could be fighting on one side and then the next day the other side. that's why the u.s. military will be focusing on the kurdish forces first because at least a homogenous group and we know pretty much who they are going to be fighting against at any given moment. but what this says and we have
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heard it from richard and andrea and the ambassador, u.s. military officials say the current strategy just hasn't been working. there is little progress here and. there but any idea that we're going to destroy and defeat isis which, of course, is the president's primary objective here is totally out of the question with the current strategy. you can't do that with air strikes alone. you need boots on the ground for at least targeting. now ate peait appears they'll b fighting alongside the forces in syria. >> in terms of a point you run up and we talked about in the past, too on this network is concern over the different groups. initially it's the kurds you feel like you may have a better sense, there's a better sense of sort who have the ally is at that point. but the reality is with all the different groups and the way they flip-flop as you pointed out, mick, one day you could think you're working with somebody toward a common goal and then the next day you may foinld out this group is now closely aligned with the assad
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government. >> right. what officials call that is an allegiance of convenience. that can shift from day-to-day. you can understand why. currently, anyway, they've been out there pretty much all by themselves with really basic armaments and suddenly they're faced with automatic weapons. they're faced with bombing by syrian and now russian aircraft. so they will align with anybody that they will help protect them on any given day. now perhaps if the u.s. shows a stronger commit. to the fight on their behalf in syria and iraq, many of the sunnis may throw down with the u.s. and even some of the kurdish fighters. at least for convenience and safety. >> those allegiances can be -- richa richard, want to talk about the different allegiances and we tuck on turkey. turkey, too, has its own
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allegiances. i think we still have retch ard engel. we don't are richard engel anymore. joust talking about not only those allegiances of convenien e convenience, of course, but there is the issue of turkey and the politics of the region as they play out. while there may be a nato vote there, turkey has its own separate agendas. and that could present a conflict depending whon is working with who, correct? >> right. as a nato ally, can you ask the question, why did it take so long for them to agree to put u.s. military aircraft, fighter aircraft in these bases in turkey which is right next door to syria, of course. and it's because turkey was trying to straddle the line here. they have a huge problem with syria trying to create an
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autonomous state there on the boarder with turkey. they object strongly to that for obvious reasons. the u.s. was supporting some of the kurdish fighters in syria. turkey at one point in this fight was actually bombing those same forces for fear they would become too strong. influence would become too strong not only in syria but among the turkish kurds. so they had to walk that line and finally, they were convinced that the only way to make this happen and come out in their favor at all would be to support the u.s. military efforts there. this is complicated. before he retired, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff general dempsey who has seen his fair share of war said this is absolutely the most complicated situation that he's ever seen in his entire career. >> we're going to leave tlit for the moment. take a short break. stay with us. our breaking news conference continues next as we take a closer look at what this announcement that we're waiting
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on from the white house could mean as we learn more about special operations forces in syria. i am totally blind. and sometimes i struggle to sleep at night, and stay awake during the day. this is called non-24. learn more by calling 844-824-2424. or visit your24info.com.
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there will be within an hour, a little over an hour, an announcement from the white house about troops in syria. we want to get more on that now from nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel. we're hearing this is initially -- this is a three part plan as you laid out earlier in the hour, richard with, a very small number of special operations forces. but they will be working with certain groups. give us a better sense of who these groups are and what that plan is from what you heard.
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>> sure. they're sending additional troops to operate out here, out of this air base, setting up a rapid response force to work with the iraqi army, to work with kurdish iraqis, to provide some coordination capacity. and then most controversially is sending this number of special operations forces, dozens into syria where they will primarily be working with syrian kurds. but the syrian kurds these days are also working with some arab forces. and some of the arab partners is being called the syrian democratic forces. and i think that is a term that you're going to hear more from today. it is a new relatively new group. it is a way to make this
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alliance which is kurdish led and more palpable to a wider audience of nonkurds. >> so makes out a little bit more palpable. there is going to be, of course, a major concern about how palpable there is as you know to the american people as this announcement is made. with the other two parts of it and then the most controversial as you laid out, in term of those groups, we hear a lot and we talked earlier this hour. there is the term these allegiances of conveniencconven. how much concern is there that even with certain groups who seem to be fairly well known and with these syrian democratic forces that things could change. this say region where things can literally change on a dime. >> alliances and convenience are the politics of the middle east. i think we're going to see them a lot. and we already have seen them a great deal. and that is going to be an enormous challenge for the special operations forces, working on the ground. they have to navigate through
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what can only be described as a busine allegiance of forces. we have the shiite militias and the turks and all the competing groups that are trying to carve out the future of syria. but what we'll be having is among the most elite troops in the u.s. military doing this kind of operation, it was supposed to be a combination of black special operations forces, those are the very secretive groups like the navy seals, like delta force, and if you remember last week it was delta force commando whos who raided that i prison and lost one member, master sergeant joshua wheeler. in addition to the black ops, you'll see white soft, these are the green berets.
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and their job has always been to do assignments like. this they go in and all around the world they've been doing this and doing it for a long time. and colonel jack jacobs can tell you a lot more about. this they were key even back in his day in vietnam. they were supposed to be force multipliers. they work with foreign armies providing air support, providing logistics, providing intelligence. so that even a small number of them can, as the name suggests, be multiplied by the partner that they're working with. >> so thank you for setting up that perfectly. we were about to bring in colonel jack jacobs. richard, thank you. give us a better sense, richard starts to lay out the role of the green berets. how do you envision all of this playing out there on the ground? >> it's going to be very complicated on the ground to be quite honest with you. but with respect to the green
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berets, they are specialized teams trained in a wide variety of military occupational specialties, small arms, demolition, communications and so on. they can establish their own bases, go into areas and train indigenous forces. and that's the prince poll job. to train ij dij us in forces and do all they can do, communications, smalling arms and tactics and stay there long enough to make shuure the job gs done. we were in vietnam a lock, long time doing exactly this and throughout the world today, including in africa, by the way, we have special forces teams doing this around the globe to make sure that we don't have to send large numbers of conventional american troops into areas which are of interest to us but instead the ij dij us in forces can handle by
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therapyselves. a couple things about this. first of all, these are very labor intensive operations. it takes a long time to train a special forces operator and to train a special forces team. among the skills they have to have are language skills and each of these organizations are organized to apply its capabilities in specific areas. second, it requires a long, long time to get these people up to speed. this is why it's -- it's interesting to note that we're talking about sending a relatively small number of people in the area to do this kind of work. but trust me. in my experience, it taz a lot more than they're talking about and it's going to take a lot more time to do these kinds of things for special forces, operators than anybody anticipated. >> and you said to us earlier this hour, you anticipate them being on the ground for some time and you just laid out part of the reason why.
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but also i said this is just the beginning. you said, yes, there could be more troops going in. do you have a sense based on what we know of the region, what we know of the operations there and what just this first initial group of what we're hearing could be 50 special ops forces going in. any idea what they could look like ultimately? >> no. ultimately, it could be several thousands of people. don't forget, they can operate on their own. but if they're going to stay in an area or be in and out of an area as these will for a relatively long period of time, they're going to need the kind of support, larger formations so you'll have the special forces operators at the a-team level. you're also going to have special forces b teams that are going to support them. and even larger formations of special forces operators who are probably not going to be in syria but are going to be in turkey and operate from there in order to support all this.
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don't forget the amount of time it's going to tachlt we may be doing something, only secretary a few days in these negotiations in an area where the united states has none, maybe that's it and we're just going to be there for a relatively short period of time. boost the capability to make arrangements with the russians and iranians. neither he nor the united states has any boots in the area much it's going to be like general mcchrystal said some time ago, something like this takes a lot of people and here you may be talking about several thousands over time and most importantly a lot of time. he was talking about a decade or more. recognize the fact that we're all -- we've already been in this region for over a decade and have not accomplished very many of the things we try to at the outset. so look for more troops and more time. >> we're going to take a short break at this hour. we'll be back with much more on this announcement that we're
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waiting for out of the white house. what is being billed by the administration as a shift in the u.s. policy towards isis. what does it ultimately mean? we'll continue to look at that we wh we return. awe believe active management can protect capital long term. active management can tap global insights. active management can take calculated risks. active management can seek to outperform. because active investment management isn't reactive. it's active. that's the power of active management. more and more people with type 2 diabetes are learning about long-acting levemir®. as my diabetes changed, it got harder to control my blood sugar. today, i'm asking about levemir®. vo: levemir® is an injectable insulin that can give you blood sugar
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supporters that his campaign is not on life support. he held a conference call with donors yesterday after a debate that got nothing but negative headlines for the former governor. some questioning whether he could stay in the race. after the call, casey hunt cat up with him. >> look, we have eight nor debates. i have to do what other candidates do which is rudely interrupt, not answer the questions that are asked and hopefully the debate moderators will ask more substantive questions as well. it's going fine. >> are you having any fun? >> oh, yeah. you saw it. having lots of fun. >> meantime, a new national poll shows the gop primary remains a two person race at this moment. a poll has donald trump and ben kars none carson in a tie. carson is inside the margin of error with 27%, jeb bush and marco rubio coming in a distanlt
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third and fourth in that polling. joining me now, former campaign adviser to senator john mccain. he also works with the rnc hispanic advisory council. thank you for joining us. we heard a little bit. there is so much focus on jeb bush. and he reportedly said in that call to donors, look, i know i need to get better. we saw what he said to kasey there. when he lays out the strategy i'm going to be rude. i won't answer the question. i'm going to look for better questions from moderators. you've been an adviser to senator mccain. he suck secfulcessfully reboote campaign. is this a good strategy? >> i think the frustration is unlike the mccain campaign of a few years ago, this year a lot of the debates have turned into really entertainment if one wants to call it that. it seems some of the candidates get a boost when they have interruption, rudeness or zingers of some time, of course,
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donald trump is the most succ s successful in that regard. i think if i were to advise governor bush who i know quite well and prnlly, my advice would be to stick to the issues. you know, erica, we have not elected in this country an unelected official since dwight eisenhower. and he had ample experience leading our forces in world war ii. you have coverage going non in syria. the american people want a person that has vision, plan, the experience and the expertise to lead this country. and i think governor bush has that. i'm not on the bush campaign. some other candidates as well, certainly the senators and other governors. and i think that is probably the best advice. this isn't about entertainment. it's about leading this country. and i think unfortunately some of the questions that were asked by the panel, by the cnbc panel led themselves to that type of entertainment and that's unfortunate. >> it's not bent taken. and the campaign should be about
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policy and substance and how a person will get the job done. most americans agree with you on that point. yet, when you are campaigning for public office, there say certain part of it that comes down to the communication and the messaging and the connection that you can have with a potential voter. and there's been a lot of comparisons made between the former governor and his president, who was recently caught on camera and is able to connect with voters and with americans in a different way. is that part of what jeb bush needs to work on is his connection? >> i think he connected very well with florida voters. he was a successful governor for two terms with very high approval ratings. he won both races comfortably. you asked me about senator mccain at this time in 2008 at one point john mccain was at 3%. jeb bush in term of the
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establishme i establishment candidates is always at the top tier. i ultimately believe that there will be substantive discussions and plans and those will prevail. the connection is true. it's a good point. i really am a firm believer. i know jeb bush personally. i'm not on the jeb bush campaign. i'm advising, you know, all republicans quite frankly. is that the jeb should be jeb. marco should be marco. after all, donald trump is donald trump. i don't think trying to game it or coming through across with some prepared lines is going to cut it. if he is jeb bush, he demonstrated he has won successfully two statewide office that's were very competitive and has had very high approval ratings and a track record of success. he and other candidates, again, i'm not here as a spokesperson for governor bush. >> let's turn to the debates. as we're learning, there is going to be this meeting this weekend with leaders from the
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various campaigns who want to look at the debates differently. rules that were agreed to but interestingly closed out of this is the rnc. you work with the hispanic advisory council at the rnc. what is the thinking that rnc is shutout of these discussions? >> let me say that i agree with our rnc chairman very much. he strongly condemned the cnbc manner in which the debate -- the questions were asked by the moderators. the rnc is onboard about the concerns of the candidates. i think what the candidates want to do since these were agreed upon rules and the rnc had a role on this is to take stock individually. i'm not sure the rnc is going to be cut out. i think they have a lot of respect for our chairman and our party leadership. but i do think the campaigns are on the ground. i think that it's perfectly appropriate. i really do believe, erica, that the big losers were really the
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moderators of cnbc and they helped a couple candidates among them governor christie and senator cruz that were not at the forefront by the performance. i hope we don't have questions. and that's what the campaign's managers are meeting and the leaders are meeting. we have questions in the future about fantasy football or really the kind of questions that were inappropriate for donald trump that he doesn't have a chance. that's not the role of the moderator, especially cnbc with such expertise and the economy and business. i was really looking forward to a very business scentric debate. >> cnbc said if anyone is going to run for president, essentially, they should be ready to answer the tough questions. we're going to have to leave it there. i do appreciate you joining us. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. our breaking news coverage continues next. the white house set to announce a small number of u.s. special ops forces will deploy to syria as part of a shift in a plan to combat isis.
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ahead our reporter who recently returned from that region will be us with.
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the white house set to announce a small number of u.s. forces will be sent to syria to fight isis our reporter recently traveled to the region. lucky you're in new york today so we can talk this through in person. we were talking about the challenges that the special operations forces will face. >> yeah. >> as they go in. lay that out for us. >> i was there a few months ago in this kurdish-controlled area of syria. you cross from northern iraq. it's about a three or four hour road journey and all of that journey on the left hand side is the isis front line with the kurdish forces. they're called the ypg. then when you get to an area like hasica, there is close combat in an urban setting between the ypg and isis and, by the way, between the at forces from the assad government. so the kurds and assad
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government's forces are in an alliance against isis in that particular place, for example, when we were there. it's difficult because each house that you take, isis leave mines, booby traps so they have to be very careful moving forward. some parts of that area are still controlled by the syrian government. and, of course, u.s. forces coming into contact with syrian government forces present some really tricky issues. when we were there, the syrian government was using artillery to attack isis. there is one stage where there was a really tense moment between the kurds and the syrian government forces because the syrian government forces thought the kurds had been bombing them. and for a moment we thought that the syrian was turn their artillery on us. so that's the difficulty of operating in this area. okay, it's a small u.s. force. but it's really tricky. >> a small force.
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incredibly tricky. no matter how well trained you are, there is also the issue which we've been talking about this morning, some of these alliances shifting. and often without warning. >> what i just described, that's a description of the shifting alliances. it's an agreement between the kurds and the assad government that can change any time and at one point when we were on the ground in a particular area we were, it might change. and then here's another issue. the kurds really do have pretty good control of the area they have. but just further on is isis defact d defacto capital. we asked if there will be a push on that city. the trouble they have is that place is majority sunni arab. if we move in there, even if we take that city, will the local community welcome us? probably not. will they turn against us? quite likely. so that again is the issue. if the plan is to hept kurds push their front line, they're
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pushing into areas that aren't really their community, necessarily, or not they're majority community, more problems. >> we're going to have to leave it there for a second as we take a quaek breick break. we'll continue our coverage here on msnbc after this short break. ♪jake reese, "day to feel alive"♪ ♪jake reese, "day to feel alive"♪ ♪ everything kids touch during cold and flu season sticks with them. make sure the germs they bring home don't stick around. use clorox disinfecting products. because no one kills germs better than clorox.
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good day from new york. brian williams here with you. as erica hill has been reporting for the past hour or so, we have been passing along the exclusive reporting of our chief foreign correspondent richard engel about an increased presence by the united states, specifically special forces, in syria. let's start out as we await to hear this announcement from the white house of this change in stance, a more robust mission there. richard engel is standing by in istanbul. richard, as people tune in,
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aware of this news, tell us again from the top what it is you know and how the u.s. presence is going to change. >> reporter: so for the last year, brian, the u.s. has been fighting against isis mostly from the air, but also working with partners like the iraqi government, sometimes working with partners like the kurds in syria. but the u.s. has been careful not to have american boots on the ground in syria. and effectively, that strategy hasn't been working. so what we're going to see and hear today from the white house quite soon, in fact, is the announcement of a three-pronged strategy. all of them involving deeper u.s. military involvement, all of them talking about a more robust effort against isis. the first prong, here where i am which is in turkey, more combat jets are coming, some are already here, a-10s have been
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brought in, f-15s are on their way. that extra fire power operating from the air base to carry out more intensified strikes on isis. then in another country in northern iraq, a rapid reaction force, unclear how large it will be but it could be quite significant, sent there to coordinate this mission and to provide assistance should any allied or american troops get into trouble. and lastly, the most controversial and perhaps the biggest shift that we're going to hear today is sending a small number, dozens of american special operations forces, into syria to be based in syria, moving in and out of the country working with established groups there, primarily kurdish rebels to fight against isis. so a three-pronged approach in three different nations. certainly an escalation of what
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we have seen so far from this administration in its efforts to fight what is undoubtedly the world's worst terrorist organization. >> richard, is it fair to say that americans would be surprised if they learned about the tempo of the u.s. air operation on a daily basis, these past several weeks and months? >> reporter: well, i think a big element of the u.s. policy became exposed just last week, when you had american special operations forces, who by the way weren't supposed to be involved in combat against isis, the president had repeatedly said there would be quote, no boots on the ground, no troops in combat in this yet again an american engagement, military engagement in the middle east. this one was supposed to be done by remote control and then last week, not only did one american soldier die fighting in close
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quarters with -- in an isis raid, when u.s. and kurdish commandoes raided a prison in iraq, an isis prison, but they also saw pictures of americans top secret delta force moving through that isis compound. so i think it has been very awkward for this administration to explain what exactly u.s. troops are doing against isis, what is their role, and i think we will hear more clarification coming out of the white house quite soon, explaining this broader approach, explaining what the limitations are, explaining why it's important to have american troops closer to the enemy that they're fighting and in this case, having dozens at least of boots on the ground in syria to work with partners which they will argue will be more effective than the strategies that have been employed so far. >> one more question before we get a preview of what to expect at the white house from nbc's
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ron allen. i heard you in your list of aircraft we can expect coming into the region, you mentioned the a-10. it has been called by its nickname the wart hog. it is also called a tank killer. is this to indicate any shift in strategy in and of itself? it's usually used against armor. >> reporter: well, isis has a great deal of armor, frankly. isis as you know about a year ago took over not only large parts of syria, but also took over the city of mosul, the iraqi units that had been trained and equipped at the cost of roughly $25 billion by the united states, many of those units collapsed, handed over their weapons or allowed their weapons to be seized. so isis operates with american armored humvees, with in some cases american made tanks. yes, if you want to take on isis
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you not only have to draw them out of their urban areas, but you have to have fire power that will be sufficient enough to destroy top of the line american made weaponry. >> one of the ironies of this conflict, american a-10 aircraft will be used in part to blow up american manufactured armored vehicles. richard engel, stand by there in istanbul. let's go to the west wing briefing room. nbc's ron allen and ron, what are we expecting, when and i am guessing they are going to do their dead level best to say this is really just a slight change in the american footing in the region. >> reporter: exactly. we are expecting this announcement to come from the press briefing in about an hour or so. we do not expect to see the president himself which is an indication of how they are trying to perhaps deemphasize what's happening here. i think you're right, we will probably hear a very carefully
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parsed statement using words like intensify, but not using words like shift of mission or change of mission or reassessment or anything like that. they are also going to emphasize, i would think, as they have, that this is not a return to large scale combat, or long term combat. which are words they have used here frequently to try and make sure the american public from their point of view, from the administration's point of view, hears that this is not going back to iraq and the way we have been there for so many years. but they are going to be very careful. they are going to be very careful about perhaps not using words like combat and so forth, because again, there are many indications, there have been many times when the president has said that these troops will not be returning to combat. i think they are also going to emphasize that this is a two-track amping up or intensification, if you will, because secretary kerry is very busy in vienna involved in long
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put-off talks that have resumed about trying to find a negotiated, diplomatic settlement to the syrian crisis, talks that for the first time involve iran which is significant because along with the russians, of course, the iranians and the russians are bashar al assad's best friends anywhere in the world propping him up. also, i don't think we are going to hear them say this is in response to what russia has been doing there over the past couple of months, but there is no mistaking the timing of all this, that the russian military operations have amped up in the region, there have been air strikes carried out, there have been reports of russian troops on the ground. we saw the president and vladimir putin meeting at the u.n. and we know they have a very difficult at best relationship. so clearly, the united states it would seem is trying to raise our profile in the area. there's been a lot of criticism directed at the administration saying we should be doing more. so i think again, you will hear a very carefully parsed statement outlining the steps
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that richard engel has reported, but again, trying not to say that this is anything different but clearly, clearly it is. when you talk to military analysts, they say what has been going on there is combat and again, i can think of several occasions where the president has said we will not be returning to combat but clearly, that's what's been happening and it's going to be intensifying going forward because essentially, what they have been doing has not been working. they are going to say today we believe they are going to try and redouble their efforts, intensifying operations that have been working, essentially working with local forces on the ground. the administration has had its best successes working with the peshmerga forces in the northern part of iraq, not much success in syria in direct confrontations with isis. so now this is perhaps a tacit admission that we really do need to put boots on the ground in limited numbers, they will say, but again, this is a road that
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the president had clearly not wanted to go down, we would think, but that's where we're going because what's been going on there just hasn't been working. >> ron, you mentioned the president's words in the past. i'm looking at one such statement, september 10th, 2013, my answer is simple. i will not put american boots on the ground in syria. but that's one of several pronouncements today apparently what we are going to hear is situations change. ron allen in the briefing room at the white house. we will go back to ron as the timing of this announcement nears. those of you tuning in to see andrea mitchell's broadcast at 12:00 noon eastern time will be going to andrea in just a moment. first over to the pentagon across the potomac from d.c. our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. jim, you were listening to richard engel's reporting as you have all morning. anything you would add to the list and anything you would

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