If memory serves me right, we got into the Vietnam War by slowly injecting Army "liaison support" to help the South Vietnamese. First the advisers coached the Viets on the principles of warfare and soldiering. Then the advisers started escorting groups of Vietnamese on local forays. Then suddenly the advisers recommended using some of our troops to show the Vietnamese how it was done. Then suddenly it ended up with a half million US troops in Vietnam under President Johnson. And it all started with "liaison support".....like...suddenly.
By Craig Whitlock, Tuesday, April 30, 1:45 PM
"The Pentagon has deployed a small number of troops to Mali to support allied forces fighting there, despite repeated pledges by the Obama administration not to put “boots on the ground” in the war-torn African country.
About 10 U.S. military personnel are in Mali to provide “liaison support” to French and African troops but are not engaged in combat operations, said Lt. Col. Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman. Twelve others are assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, the capital, he added.
The Pentagon had previously said that it had no intention of sending troops to Mali and that it would involve itself in the conflict only at arms length — by providing aerial refueling to French warplanes and sharing intelligence with allies. It also said that it would ferry soldiers from neighboring African countries to Mali on U.S. troop transport planes, but that the aircraft would not remain in the country.
“There is no consideration of putting any American boots on the ground at this time,” Leon E. Panetta, then the secretary of defense, said on Jan. 15, a few days after France intervened militarily in Mali to prevent Islamist fighters from taking control of the country. "
More here: [link to www.washingtonpost.com