Thought for the Day

"No matter how busy you are, you must find time for reading, or you surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance." Confucius

Saturday, November 22, 2014

From the CIA Book reviews: Moles, Defectors, and Deceptions: James Angleton and His Influence on US Counterintelligence

Excerpt:

This is the best assessment of James Angleton and his career ever produced.

You can watch the entire conference at this link:http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/moles-defectors-and-deceptions-james-angleton-and-his-influence-us-counterintelligence
 (I moderated the third panel :-))


We also have hard copies of the book at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown since we sponsored this conference and co-hosted it with the Wilson Center.

Moles, Defectors, and Deceptions: James Angleton and His Influence on US Counterintelligence, edited by Bruce Hoffman and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2014), 116 pp., photos, no index.

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol-58-no-3/intelligence-officer2019s-bookshelf.html
On 29 March 2012, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars sponsored a seminar on James Angleton, his legacy, and his influence on counterintelligence. It was cochaired by the editors of this volume, which is a transcript of the proceedings. The 12 contributors were Tennent Bagley (CIA retired); Barry Royden (CIA retired); Carl Colby 
(Producer/Director and William Colby’s son); journalist/authors Edward Epstein, Ronald Kessler, David Martin and David Wise; historians Christopher Andrew (Cambridge), Loch Johnson (University of Georgia), John Prados (National Security Archive), and David Robarge (CIA); and Oleg Kalugin (KGB retired).

Each contributor made a presentation, and the overall result was an unusual summary view of Angleton and his CIA career. Only Bagley had had prolonged professional contact with Angleton. Johnson had interviewed him several times while on the Church Committee staff, and Epstein had interviewed him for 85 hours; both of these encounters occurred after Angleton had retired. The other journalists, authors, and historians had written books or articles about Angleton based on documents and interviews.

The varied views presented reflect the origins and functions of CIA counterintelligence as well as Angleton’s molehunt and other controversial elements of his career. There were brisk exchanges among the presenters and the audience. (36–37) Questions from the audience and the panelists’ answers are also included. This is the best assessment of James Angleton and his career ever produced.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Warrior Ethos at Risk: H.R. McMaster's Remarkable Veterans Day Speech (at Georgetown)


Yes this was a remarkable speech.  One of the best I have ever heard. We were very fortunate to have LTG McMaster give this speech at Georgetown on Veteran's Day.  I have to add that both Joel Meredith's (President of the Georgetown Student Veterans of America) and President DeGioia's speeches were excellent and complementary to the General's as well.  I am glad that Janine Davidson was able to get this and publish it because this needs to have wide distribution.
​  This is a foundational speech for anyone who studies war.​



The Warrior Ethos at Risk: H.R. McMaster’s Remarkable Veterans Day Speech

by Janine Davidson
November 18, 2014
Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities an Integration Center and deputy commanding general of futures for the U.S. Army Training Doctrine Command, speaks at Georgetown University's Veterans Day ceremony. (Georgetown University Office of Communications)Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities an Integration Center and deputy commanding general of futures for the U.S. Army Training Doctrine Command, speaks at Georgetown University's Veterans Day ceremony. (Georgetown University Office of Communications)

Dr. Degioia, faculty, administrators, students, guests—and especially veterans.
On November 11, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, gave the keynote address at Georgetown University’s Veterans Day ceremony. His message was simple and powerful: the study of war should not be confused with its advocacy; today’s stakes are higher than ever; the warrior ethos is threatened by both tech evangelists (who believe all conflict might be resolved at a safe distance) and a growing gap between the U.S. military and civil society. It’s a remarkably lucid speech by one of the Army’s most energetic leaders. You can read the whole text below:
Good afternoon. It is a great honor for me to participate in this celebration. My thanks to Georgetown University and the Student Veterans Association and the Hoya ROTC battalion. It is a particular privilege to celebrate Veterans Day at an elite university that has both educated and been shaped by our nation’s veterans. I would like to begin by thanking, on behalf of all veterans, the university leadership for making Georgetown the top-rated college for veterans.
Our military is a living historical community and those of us serving today are determined to preserve the legacy of courageous, selfless service that we have inherited from the veterans who have gone before us. We might remember that we are commemorating Veterans Day in the year marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of The Great War. We celebrate on this day because on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War I ended. Though much has changed in the character of armed conflict since the early twentieth century, there are also clear continuities in the nature of war and especially in the character, commitment, and ethos of those who have served in our Armed Forces.  I thought that we might consider two ways of honoring our veterans for which those connected to Georgetown University are particularly qualified. First, to study war as the best means of preventing it; and second, to help the American military preserve our warrior ethos while remaining connected to those in whose name we fight.
There is a tendency in the United States to confuse the study of war and warfare with militarism. Thinking clearly about the problem of war and warfare, however, is both an unfortunate necessity and the best way to prevent it. As the English theologian, writer, and philosopher G.K. Chesterton observed, “War is not the best way of settling differences, but it is the only way of preventing them being settled for you.” As George Washington, who addressed Georgetown students in August 1797 observed, “To be prepared for war is the most effectual means to promote peace.” One of the patterns of American military history is to be unprepared for war either because of wishful thinking or a failure to consider continuities in the nature of war—especially war’s political and human dimensions.
In Europe, Jan Bloch, Norman Angell and others believed in 1914 that war had become so irrational a means of settling disputes that sensible people would never again fight one. Orville and Wilbur Wright believed that the invention of the aeroplane would bring an end to war. Even Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the machine gun when asked if his invention would increase the human cost of war, replied that the weapon will “make war impossible.”
The experience of World War I, a conflict that took the lives of over sixteen million people, highlighted the need to understand the political and historical basis for violent conflict as critical both to preserving peace and ending wars. It was no coincidence that Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service opened in February 1919 with Edmund A. Walsh, the Jesuit priest for whom it is now named, serving as regent. Its charter was to help create and sustain lasting peace among nations. As we know, however, the “war that was to end all wars” was instead the first of two world wars that marked the bloodiest century in world history.
Constantine McGuire’s vision for the Walsh School was to promote peace through commerce and diplomacy. This vision was consistent with Immanuel Kant’s idea of humanity reaching ‘moral maturity,’ as international institutions helped to prevent war.
World War II highlighted that institutions inconsistent with the cultural dispositions or historical experiences of its members are doomed to failure. After Pearl Harbor, our nation mobilized. Georgetown was the first elite university to be incorporated into the Army’s plan to establish training centers on campus. As they had during World War I, Georgetown students and faculty answered the call to service. World War II involved all of America. The U.S. Army grew from an army of 190,000 to an army of almost 8.5 million—a 44 fold increase. A total of 16 million Americans served in uniform in WWII; virtually every family had someone in harm’s way, every American had an emotional investment in our armed forces.
As the historian Rick Atkinson has observed, the wars of the twentieth century also teach us that victory in war is only possible through sacrifice. In World War II alone, the U.S. military sustained almost 300,000 battle deaths and about 100,000 deaths from other causes. The war lasted 2,174 days and claimed an average of 27,600 lives every day, or 1,150 an hour, or nineteen a minute, or one death every three seconds.
After World War II, the U.S. accepted that military power was necessary not only to the establishment, but also to the preservation of peace. However, many thought that strategic bombing capability and the atomic bomb was all that was needed to deter and, if necessary, prevail in war. The U.S. Army was unprepared to respond effectively to the North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950, anther bloody war in that bloodiest of centuries.
Georgetown graduates continued to serve our nation in the Korean War, the Vietnam War and across the Cold War. Prominent among them is Joseph Mark Lauinger for whom the library is named and who made the supreme sacrifice and received the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action.
It was during the divisive Vietnam War that many universities confused the study of war with advocacy of it and tended to view military forces and weapons as propagators of violence rather than protectors of peace. Some saw war as the cause rather than the result of international tensions and competitions.
As the new world order associated with the end of the Cold War was thought to usher in an era of peace, the U.S. military and many Georgetown graduates were again in armed conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf and the Balkans. I had the great privilege of serving in the 1991 Persian Gulf War with Lieutenant Mike Petschek who served with great distinction and received the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action at the Battle of 73 Easting.
The American military experience of the twentieth century was consistent with President Barack Obama’s observation, “To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason…”
It was Aristotle who first said that it is only worth discussing what is in our power. So we might discuss how to prevent particular conflicts rather than eliminate all conflict, and when conflict is necessary, how to win. And in the pursuit of victory, how to preserve our values and make war less inhumane.
And we might discuss war to understand continuities its nature and changes in its character. It was a misinterpretation of the lopsided military victory in the 1991 Gulf war that gave rise to what would become the orthodoxy of the Revolution in Military Affairs, the belief that American military technological advantages would shift war fundamentally from the realm of uncertainty to the realm of certainty. The language was hubristic. The United States would use dominant battlespace knowledge to achieve full spectrum dominance over any opponent. The U.S. military would shock and awe opponents in the conduct of rapid decisive operations. War would be fast, cheap, and efficient. The thinking betrayed what Elting Morison warned against in 1967 when he wrote the following in Men, Machines, and Modern Times.
What I want to suggest here is the persistent human temptation to make life more explicable by making it more calculable; to put experience into some logical scheme that by its order and niceness will make what happens seem more understandable, analysis more bearable, decision simpler….
The orthodoxy of the Revolution in Military Affairs aimed to make war more explicable and calculable. This fundamentally flawed thinking about future war set us up for many of the difficulties we would encounter in the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So we should discuss war in places like this great university because we have much to learn and because the stakes are high.
The stakes are high because we are engaged today, as previous generations were engaged, against enemies that pose a great threat to all civilized peoples. As previous generations defeated Nazi facism, Japanese imperialism, and communist totalitarianism and oppression, we will defeat these enemies who cynically use a perverted interpretation of religion to incite hatred and violence.
The murder of more than 3,000 of our fellow Americans on September 11, 2001 is etched indelibly in all of our memories. Since those attacks, our nation has been at war with modern day barbarians. It is our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have volunteered for military service in time of war who will continue to stand between us and these terrorists who rape women, abuse children and commit mass murder of innocents.
The stakes are high because what see in the Greater Middle East is a humanitarian catastrophe of colossal scale. And battlegrounds overseas are inexorably connected to our own security. As the historian Margaret MacMillan has observed, “new technologies and social media platforms provide new rallying points for fanatics.” Enemy organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIL seek to perpetuate ignorance, foment hatred, and use that hatred as justification for the murder of innocents. They entice masses of undereducated, disaffected young men with a sophisticated campaign of propaganda, disinformation, and brainwashing.
As President Obama observed “a non violent movement could not have stopped Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.” America, he observed has used its military power, “Because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.”  Ultimately, it will fall today, as it fell then, on the shoulders of American servicemen and women to stop mass murderers who threaten all of us, our children, and our grandchildren.
It is for this reason that American veterans are both warriors and humanitarians.
And because the stakes today are high as they were then, we must preserve our warrior ethos while remaining connected to those in whose name we fight.
The warrior ethos is a covenant between the members of our profession comprised of values such as honor, duty, courage, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. But our warrior ethos also depends on our military’s connection to our society. That is because when we are valued by others we value ourselves. Ultimately, as Christopher Coker has observed, it is the warrior ethos that permits servicemen and women to see themselves as part of a community that sustains itself through “sacred trust” and a covenant that binds us to one another and to the society we serve. The warrior ethos is important because it is what makes military units effective. It is also important because it is what makes war “less inhumane.”
The warrior ethos is at risk because fewer and fewer Americans are connected to our professional military. Separation from our society is consequential because warriors depend on respect for what they do to maintain their self-respect.
The warrior ethos is at risk because fewer and fewer Americans understand what is at stake in the wars in which we are engaged. How many Americans could, for example, name the three main Taliban organizations we are fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
The warrior ethos is at risk because some argue that victory over an enemy or winning in war is an old idea that is no longer relevant in today’s complex world.
The warrior ethos is at risk because some continue to advocate simple, mainly technologically based solutions to the problem of future war, ignoring war’s very nature as a human and political activity that is fundamentally a contest of wills.
The warrior ethos is at risk because popular culture waters down and coarsens the warrior ethos. Warriors are most often portrayed as fragile traumatized human beings. Hollywood tells us little about the warrior’s calling or commitment to his or her fellow warriors or what compels him or her to act courageously, endure hardships, take risks, or make sacrifices.
So I suggest, in honor of our veterans, that we build on the work of Georgetown University and embark on a renewed effort to understand war and warriors. And we might ensure that we do not take for granted the important role that Georgetown and other universities play in keeping our military connected to those in whose name we fight.
Understanding war and warriors is necessary if societies and governments are to make sound judgments concerning military policy. It is our society’s expectations that allow our military to set expectations for ourselves and our fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.  And in our democracy, if society is disconnected from an understanding of war or is unsympathetic to the warrior ethos, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the fundamental requirements of military effectiveness and to recruit young men and women into military service.
I would like to end with a quotation from George Washington’s speech to Connecticut Troops before their enlistment ran out during the Siege of Boston in 1775. It is apt in connection with the service of our men and women today as well as the relationship between them and our society in time of war.
 Your exertions in the cause of freedom, guided by wisdom and animated by zeal and courage, have gained you the love and confidence of your grateful countrymen; and they look to you, who are experienced veterans, and trust that you will still be the guardians of America. More human glory and happiness may depend upon your exertions than ever yet depended upon any sons of men. He that is a soldier in defense of such a cause, needs not title; his post is a post of honor, and although not an emperor, yet he shall wear a crown—of glory—and blessed will be his memory!
Veterans. Blessed will be your memory. Thank you.
Hoya Saxa and God Bless the United States of America.

US Stops Flow Of Weapons To Moderate Syrian Rebels, Considers Vetting New Groups In South


Before reading the article below I suggest reading this excerpt from an NPR interview  this morning with a Syrian in Syria and ask ourselves if we can we handle the truth?


INSKEEP: I want to remind people that United States policy towards Syria has been complicated. The U.S. has demanded that President Bashar al-Assad must step down, but has not struck the Syrian regime. The U.S. has used airstrikes and other means against ISIS in the northern part of the country. What do people around you say about U.S. policy?
ALBATAL: Do you want the truth?
INSKEEP: I want the truth.
ALBATAL: OK. It's either stupid or don't care.
INSKEEP: People think the United States is stupid or that the United States doesn't care?
ALBATAL: Yeah, and they say that because the regime killed more than 200,000 people, and none of the world did anything. And when ISIS killed about 3,000 people, all the world, like, gathered.

And if we think we can handle the truth then the next thing we need to ask is can we as a nation conduct Unconventional Warfare?  Do we have anyone in the White House who understands UW and who can ask for an then allow execution of a UW strategy?


US Stops Flow Of Weapons To Moderate Syrian Rebels, Considers Vetting New Groups In South

By @ErinBancoe.banco@ibtimes.com on November 18 2014 8:54 AM
FreeSyrianArmy_Sept2014
Free Syrian Army fighters are silhouetted as they ride on a tank in the countryside of Kaferzita, Hama, on Sept. 19, 2014.Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

The U.S. is withdrawing its weapons support for the moderate rebel groups it previously backed in northern Syria after they suffered major defeats in Idlib province last week at the hands of an al Qaeda affiliate. Washington is searching for new fighters to prop up, members of the Free Syrian Army said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, after more than three years of war and hundreds of thousands of people dead, President Bashar Assad, the leader that the U.S. onced vowed would fall to opposition forces, remains in power.
It seems "likely that the weapons will stop,” Mohammed Ghanem, a senior political adviser in Washington at the Syrian American Council, a grassroots organization based in Chicago, said. “The situation now in Syria … it's not pretty to be honest with you. We don’t have high hopes.” Ghanem is part of a network of Syrian nonprofit organizations that are working to brief senior U.S. officials in Washington on the situation on the ground in Syria and that advocate for the support of the Syrian opposition.
The Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the Harakat Hazzm Movement are two major beneficiaries  of the U.S. weapons program in Syria that fight under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. Both of the groups have suffered major losses in the last several weeks in Syria, overrun by Islamist militant groups like al-Nusra. Syrian opposition members affiliated with the groups, some of whose spokesmen requested anonymity, said U.S. weapons shipments have stopped.
The Department Of Defense told the International Business Times Tuesday that it is currently not working with Harakat Hazzm.
In an interview with International Business Times in October in Istanbul, more than a month before the groups were defeated in Idlib, the leader of the Hazzm movement, Khalid Saleh, said that the anti-armor missiles, known as TOW missiles, that were given to his group by the U.S. had run out.
SRF and Harakat Hazzm were pushed out of Idlib province by al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s offshoot in Syria, last week. Militants fighting with al-Nusra took over the Hazzm movement’s headquarters in Der Sonnbol and seized weapons, including some  of the TOW missiles.
The two groups supported by the U.S. and some of its Sunni allies were led by Jamal Maarouf, who is suspected of having fled to Turkey following the fighting in Idlib. Al-Nusra, the group that defeated the U.S.-backed rebels last week, issued a statement Monday declaring its rejection of any factions that support Maarouf. Several dozen Hazzm movement fighters were reported to have joined al-Nusra following its victory in Idlib.
Several videos were published on YouTube over the weekend following the attacks, one of which showed al-Nusra fighters purportedly driving tanks through Idlib with the U.S. weapons they seized from the moderate rebels.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a House hearing last week that the U.S. "longer-term effort is to train and equip creadible, moderate Syrian opposition forces," but the U.S. has been arming the moderate rebels in Syria for more than a year; the idea is not new. What is new, Ghanem said, is that the U.S. is thinking about the possibility of arming rebels in southern Syria. 
"There is more hope for rebels in the South," Ghanem said. "The South might become the model for Syria." But, he said, the U.S. needs to avoid the mistakes it made with the moderate opposition groups it previously backed.
In the spring of 2013 the U.S. selected groups of rebels fighting with the Free Syrian Army, first through a classified CIA-led program, which was formally announced in August 2013. The program allowed for the transfer of U.S.-made weapons to Turkey via other countries’ aircrafts. The weapons were then driven into Syria by truck. The program was partially funded by Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Sunni states.
Last year, the U.S. ramped up efforts to support the moderate opposition and began training several thousand rebels at a secret base in Jordan. Since then, the rebels have failed to make any significant advances in Syria. In fact, they lost Homs, once dubbed the "heart of the revolution," to the regime in May.
The emergence of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, set the rebels back even further. They had to fight on multiple fronts with little resources and dwindling U.S. support. That lack of U.S. support was one of the main reasons why the moderate rebels failed to stave off al-Nusra in Idlib, according to several opposition activists urging Washington to send more weapons. 
"We think that President Obama threw the Syrian opposition under the bus," Ghanem said, adding that U.S. and Turkish officials met last week and proposed the idea of training another 2,000 Syrian rebels but "given how abysmal the situation is in Syria, that seems like a bad joke," he said. It is not clear which moderate rebels would be trained under the new deal.
The U.S. administration’s rhetoric on Syria has changed over time, starting with confident statements in 2011 and again in 2012 that Assad would soon fall. The Syrian moderate opposition, U.S. officials said, represented Syria’s best alternative. In August 2011 Obama said Assad was “on his way out” and that “the balance has shifted.” About one year later, in October 2012, Obama said: “I am confident Assad’s days are numbered.” But now, the U.S. is so focused on defeating ISIS in Iraq that it has all but forgotten about Syria, Ghanem said, pointing to Hagel's testimony last week.
"In Syria, our actions against ISIL are focused on shaping the dynamic in Iraq, which remains the priority of our counter-ISIL strategy. But we are sober about the challenges we face as ISIL exploits the complicated, long-running Syrian conflict,” Hagel said in his testimony. “Because we do not have a partner government to work with, or regular military partners as we do in Iraq, in the near term, our military aims in Syria are limited to isolating and destroying ISIL’s safe havens.” Hagel said that the U.S. would not be able to make a difference on the ground in Syria for another eight to 12 months because it still needs to adequately train and equip Syrian rebels.
"Our strategy in Syria will demand time, patience and perseverance to deliver results," he said. "Our strategy is to strengthen the moderate opposition to the point where they can, first, defend and control their local capibilities."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

U.S. weighs expanded CIA training, arming of Syrian allies struggling against Assad


I certainly hope the CIA will take a comprehensive UW approach to the problem.  I hope they will focus on the underground and auxiliary and not just on training and equipping fighters.  It is only through a comprehensive UW approach can we gain and sustain access and influence, the important task being the ability to have sustained influence over the leadership whom we are supporting.  But of course I would not expect the press to understand this and ask the right questions.

And of  course the question should be asked why are their separate CIA and DOD efforts? (if what is implied in the article is accurate).

The proposed CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year, U.S. officials said. The agency now vets and trains about 400 fighters each month — as many as are expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year.


Why is there not a single integrated strategy?  Why are their separate "programs?"

U.S. weighs expanded CIA  training, arming 

of Syrian allies struggling against Assad


A rebel fighter readies a mortar during clashes with regime forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on October 31, 2014. Syria accused Turkey on October 30, of a "flagrant violation" of its sovereignty, as Ankara allowed Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters and opposition rebels to cross its border to battle jihadists. AFP PHOTO/KARAM AL-MASRIKARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images (Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images)
By Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung November 14 at 7:45 PM   
The Obama administration has been weighing plans to escalate the CIA’s role in arming and training fighters in Syria, a move aimed at accelerating covert U.S. support to moderate rebel factions while the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases, U.S. officials said.
The proposed CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year, U.S. officials said. The agency now vets and trains about 400 fighters each month — as many as are expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year.
The prospect of expanding the CIA program was on the agenda of a meeting of senior national security officials at the White House last week. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the meeting or to address whether officials had reached a decision on the matter.
Others said the proposal reflects concern about the pace of the Pentagon’s program to bolster moderate militias, which so far have proved no match for al-Qaeda offshoots including the Islamic State.
“We need a little more urgency in helping the moderates, and the agency was viewed as the best way to get that going fast,” said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the Syria debate.
A decision to expand the CIA program would deepen U.S. involvement in Syria, where the United Nations says 200,000 people have been killed during more than three years of civil war. The agency’s mission is a central but secret component of a broader U.S. effort that also involves airstrikes and an influx of U.S. military advisers into Iraq.
(Continued at the link below)

Defeating ISIS by Max Boot

Excerpt:

To defeat ISIS, the president needs to dispatch more aircraft, military advisors, and special operations forces, while loosening the restrictions under which they operate. The president also needs to do a better job of mobilizing support from Sunnis in Iraq and Syria, as well as from Turkey, by showing that he is intent on deposing not only ISIS but also the equally murderous Alawite regime in Damascus. Specific steps include:
...
Send in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Between 2003 and 2010, JSOC—composed of units such as SEAL Team Six and Delta Force—became skilled at targeting the networks of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Its success was largely due to its ability to gather intelligence by interrogating prisoners and scooping up computers and documents—something that bombing alone cannot accomplish. JSOC squadrons should once again be moved to the region (they could be stationed in Iraq proper, the Kurdistan Regional Government, Turkey, and/or Jordan) to target high-level ISIS organizers.

Max calls for the silver bullet.  Somehow I think operations in Syria will be much different than were operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Syria will be the most sustained denied area in which they would ever have to operate and to conduct the level of operations that were conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan will require even greater conventional support (and not just air support).  I do not mean this at all to disparage JSOC and the great missions they have conducted and the important contributions they have made but we should remember the 5th SOF truth about most special operations requiring non-SOF support.  Without the ground combat capability provided by conventional ground combat forces JSOC will not be able to sustain the level of operations (OPTEMPO - operational tempo) that was sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This is the catch 22 in Syria and even to a certain extent in Iraq though it is possible that a well advised Iraqi force could provide some capability to support JSOC operations in Iraq (if approved by the sovereign Iraqi government assuming we still consider Iraq a sovereign nation)  but of course not nearly to the level of US ground combat forces.

Defeating ISIS

Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 51

Author: , Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
Defeating ISIS - max-boot-defeating-isis
PublisherCouncil on Foreign Relations Press
Release DateNovember 2014
Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 51

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Overview

President Barack Obama's strategy in Syria and Iraq is not working. The president is hoping that limited air strikes, combined with U.S. support for local proxies—the peshmerga, the Iraqi security forces, the Sunni tribes, and the Free Syrian Army—will "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). U.S. actions have not stopped ISIS from expanding its control into Iraq's Anbar Province and northern Syria. If the president is serious about dealing with ISIS, he will need to increase America's commitment in a measured way—to do more than what Washington is currently doing but substantially less than what it did in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade. And although President Obama will probably not need to send U.S. ground–combat forces to Iraq and Syria, he should not publicly rule out that option; taking the possibility of U.S. ground troops off the table reduces U.S. leverage and raises questions about its commitment.

A Big Threat

A reasonable goal for the United States would be neither to "degrade" ISIS (vague and insufficient) nor to "destroy" it (too ambitious for the present), but rather to "defeat" or "neutralize" it, ending its ability to control significant territory and reducing it to, at worst, a small terrorist group with limited reach. This is what happened with ISIS' predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, during 2007 and 2008, before its rebirth amid the chaos of the Syrian civil war. It is possible to inflict a similar fate on ISIS, which, for all of its newfound strength, is less formidable and less organized than groups like Hezbollah and the Taliban, which operate with considerable state support from Iran and Pakistan, respectively. Although not as potent a fighting force as Hezbollah or the Taliban, ISIS is an even bigger threat to the United States and its allies because it has attracted thousands of foreign fighters who could return to commit acts of terrorism in their homelands.

What It Will Take to Defeat ISIS

To defeat ISIS, the president needs to dispatch more aircraft, military advisors, and special operations forces, while loosening the restrictions under which they operate. The president also needs to do a better job of mobilizing support from Sunnis in Iraq and Syria, as well as from Turkey, by showing that he is intent on deposing not only ISIS but also the equally murderous Alawite regime in Damascus. Specific steps include:
Intensify air strikes. So far, the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS has been remarkably restrained, as revealed by a comparison with the strikes against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11. When the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan between October 7, 2001, and December 23, 2001—a period of seventy-five days—U.S. aircraft flew 6,500 strike sorties and dropped 17,500 munitions. By contrast, between August 8, 2014, and October 23, 2014—seventy-six days—the United States conducted only 632 airstrikes and dropped only 1,700 munitions in Iraq and Syria. Such episodic and desultory bombing will not stop any determined military force, much less one as fanatical as ISIS.
(Continued at the link below)