Saturday, November 15, 2014

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

Share

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)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Joint Statement between the United States and the Republic of Korea

Some good news here.  Many positive statements in this joint statement. I hope both the ROK and US national security practitioners can take...