I have to ask you all if you can answer this question: what is a “very significant counter-terrorism operation with many moving parts that will be done over a period of time?”
Well, I served in the U.S. Army for 22 years and commanded at two levels, Company and Battalion, and was a Brigade-level operations officer. I deployed into several combat zones and even did a two-and-a-half year stint training Afghan officers and established a staff officers training course at the Kabul Military Training Center – so I know just a tad about operational planning. I have no idea what Secretary of State John Kerry meant – perhaps actress Tea Leoni could explain since she will be portraying that same position in the CBS series “Madam Secretary.”
As we discussed last Wednesday, Obama’s speech about his ISIS strategy made no sense – sadly ISIS knows that as well. If we were to utilize the model of Afghanistan with a force of some 500 to 600 U.S. Special Operators/CIA Operators with an indigenous force like the combined Kurdish Peshmerga force – meaning Syrian and Iranian Kurds as well – we would have the same calculus as with the Northern Alliance. As I’ve previously mentioned, the Taliban had a force of 70,000 along with 5,000 al-Qaida fighters and were routed out of Afghanistan under the massive pounding of U.S. airpower.
However, Mr. “Military Tactician” Barack Hussein Obama believes he has a better plan of Yemen or Somalia as an example – and has reiterated that he won’t be following the “mistakes” of the previous administration – hmm, I wonder about whom he’s referring?
We cannot “destroy” ISIS because that means every single person would have to be killed – after all, you cannot destroy an ideology. What we can do is defeat ISIS to render it combat-ineffective to pursue any further goals and objectives. As for the ideology, we must “delegitimize” it and that is a dedicated strategic and operational information war – using social media and operational/tactical level psychological operations messaging.
We must understand that destroying Islamo-fascism is a long term endeavor just as we destroyed Nazism, Japanese imperialism, or communism in the fall of the Soviet Union – however, socialism still exists, even here in America.
But our immediate task is to defeat ISIS. And I can sum up that strategy in eight words: We shoot, they die. We win, they lose.
We should be immediately deploying an air task force to Kirkuk AB – as we recommended here previously – of attack helicopters, close air support (SecDef Hagel that means A-10 Warthogs), and deep strike air interdiction strike aircraft. This forward deployment would enable us to truly increase strike sorties – not 150 in a month – but that in a day.
The purpose would be to freeze ISIS in place and not allow its repositioning, cut it off from logistical support, and enable a potent ground force to engage and defeat it. The massive air campaign is the shaping action. The ground assault is the decisive action. The final phase is the pursuit in order to ensure ISIS defeat – and I mean no prisoners, no restrictive rules of engagement. We don’t need any more fellas in GITMO.
This is war not just against ISIS but the ideology of Islamo-fascism and it’s time a message is sent, beginning with ISIS. And that also means removing the poison of Islamism from our own shores.
Under the pen name of Joseph Miller – a ranking Department of Defense official with a background in U.S. special operations and combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan who has worked in strategic planning – gives his assessment in The Daily Caller regarding what it will take to win the war against ISIS.
He writes, “While there are many issues with the strategy Obama laid out on Wednesday night, the first one that must be addressed is the goals of the strategy. We have yet to “destroy” al-Qaida or its affiliates, even with hundreds of thousands of U.S. forces on the ground fighting in the Middle East, though we have significantly degraded their capacity to conduct terrorist attacks. As long as “destroy” remains the end goal of the president’s strategy, it will never succeed. You cannot destroy an ideology. Our goals will have to be revised to read defeat ISIS’s military capability and degrade its capacity to commit acts of terrorism.”
The second major issue is the way we will fight the Islamic State. It cannot be limited to a “counter-terrorism campaign,” as articulated by the president and Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr. Miller concedes that there are two separate areas of operation within the overall theater – one in Iraq and one in Syria and it is a delicate tight rope to not be seen as supporting Bashar al-Assad. And given the recent revelations that the Free Syrian Army may have agreed to a cease fire with ISIS that further complicates the issue – hence why I recommend uniting the Kurds in total.
Miller also writes, “to wage these two military campaigns in the War against the Islamic State, the president is going to have to accept that the plan to use air power in support of Iraqi army and Free Syrian Army rebel ground forces will require a significant number of embedded U.S. special forces soldiers. If we fail to embed U.S. forces to coordinate strikes, we will have a very difficult time achieving the ends that the president seeks. That is not to say we should go it alone. The president is right to seek the involvement of allied and regional powers.”
Obama has a two-fold problem. First, he is an intransigent political ideologue and doesn’t want to engage in a war – despite the fact we have 1,500 ground troops deployed in Iraq right now – he cannot commit and will not make the case before Congress. Secondly, Obama is not trusted as a leader – remember his “red line” moment? It is far more difficult to build a coalition when no one believes you are capable – so Obama is just hoping and outsourcing the problem.
This is not about hashtags, it is about a carefully orchestrated, deliberate combat operation to render ISIS ineffective. However, it has to mark the beginning of America’s dedicated war against Islamo-fascism which involves hellish strike operations combined with homeland security, securing our border, information operations – not pinprick drones which have no effect on the capability or capacity of the enemy. Wherever the cockroaches exist, they have to know they will be pursued, found and killed.
And above all, we cannot execute this type of global operation while we are degrading and destroying our own military capacity.