US troops head to Syria, so why can't we call this 'boots on the ground'?

Josh Earnest had a difficult job suggesting US troops being sent to Syria would play only and 'advisory' role

It was painful to watch the White House press briefing on Friday.

Josh Earnest, the president's spokesman, tried to persuade the American people that deploying US Special Forces into Syria was not the same as "boots on the ground".

He said the 50 troops being inserted into northern Syria are still playing an "advisory" role.

To put it politely, he failed in his efforts to convince anyone.

You could almost hear the groans from the Pentagon coming across the Potomac River. The Generals need clarity, if nothing else.

It is clear that US Special Forces are in the killing business. Combat is their 'raison d'être'. America is entering the ground war, with all the risks that involves.

To suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

What happens if one of these US soldiers gets captured, tortured, and killed in the same horrific manner as the Jordanian pilot?

You can be sure kidnapping a Delta Force commando or a Navy Seal will now be the great prize for ISIS fighters.

So President Obama is taking a risk and changing his strategic calculation.

That may be a wise revision of a policy that is clearly failing and discredited. If only he could have looked the American people in the eye and told them that. Instead, he dispatched his spokesman to parse words and obfuscate.

The soldiers deploying into Syria deserve candour.

Last week a brave American soldier died in a mission to storm an ISIS-run prison in Iraq and save Kurdish inmates.

That doesn't sound like "advising and assisting" to me.