Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), known for his efforts to withdraw U.S. troops from overseas missions that have not received congressional approval, has introduced a new Privileged Resolution of Inquiry demanding President Biden to disclose the exact number of American military personnel operating in Ukraine. This resolution comes after leaked Pentagon documents revealed the presence of previously unreported U.S. Special Forces in Ukraine.
According to the leaked document, as of March, there were 97 special forces from NATO countries operating in Ukraine, including 14 U.S. special forces. When asked for confirmation, the Department of Defense declined to discuss or confirm classified information, citing potential impacts on national security and personnel safety. However, the Pentagon has not denied the authenticity of the leaked documents.
While the number of 14 U.S. special forces may seem small, it adds to a series of revelations over the past year that raise more questions than answers. Retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis emphasized the need for the American people to know authoritatively whether U.S. troops are engaged in military operations in Ukraine and to demand accountability if necessary, citing historical examples of presidents secretly employing U.S. troops without the consent or knowledge of the public.
Reports from last year had already revealed the presence of the CIA in Ukraine, operating secretly to provide weapons and military intelligence to Ukraine. The New York Times reported “even as the Biden administration has declared it will not deploy American troops to Ukraine, some C.I.A. personnel have continued to operate in the country secretly, mostly in the capital, Kyiv, directing much of the massive amounts of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainian forces.”
The Intercept reported in October 2022 that “there is a much larger presence of both CIA and U.S. special operations personnel and resources in Ukraine” than publicly known. They reported that several former and current intelligence officers told them that the covert operations were being conducted “under a presidential covert action finding,” for which only a handful of Congressional lawmakers have been notified.
The Washington Post reported in February of this year that the Pentagon was considering sending commandos in the form of “control teams” to Ukraine to counter Russian disinformation and monitor troop movements, which would require U.S. personnel to be on the ground. The exact number of trainers and intelligence personnel working under contract for the U.S. government in Ukraine remains unknown, although there have been suggestions of their presence.
The use of contractors, both American and third-party, has been widespread in U.S. military operations since the Global War on Terror was launched after 9/11. As of the end of 2022, there were approximately 22,000 contractor personnel working for the Department of Defense in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. Some experts speculate that contractors may form a significant part of the U.S. personnel presence in Ukraine, although their exact role and numbers remain undisclosed.
In light of these revelations, Congressman Gaetz’s resolution demands transparency and accountability from the Biden administration regarding the presence of U.S. military personnel in Ukraine. It underscores the need for the American people to be informed about the actions of their government and raises concerns about the potential consequences of covert military operations without proper oversight or public knowledge.
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