Perhaps the former DIA Director should have been invited to today’s meeting in Kuwait — hosted by SecDef Carter regarding U.S. strategy versus the Islamic State. RCP, Fortunascorner
A U.S. Army Sgt. trains an Iraqi police cadet. | Getty
IN THE ARENA
Why the Iraq Offensive Will Fail
Unless the president faces up to the real threat, the plans to retake Mosul don’t have a chance.
By MICHAEL T. FLYNN February 20, 2015 http://www.politico.com/ magazine/story/2015/02/why- the-iraq-offensive-will-fail- 115356.html#.VOqEpVPF_V2
American officials said this week they plan to train up to 25,000 Iraqi troops in a major mission to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, from Islamic State militants sometime this spring.
The mission is welcome, but frankly it is unlikely to succeed unless there is, at the same time, a deeper understanding on the part of our government of the real threat that the Islamic State and its adherents pose to us as a nation-and what our role in this broader fight must be. Unless the United States takes dramatically more action than we have done so far in Iraq, the fractious, largely Shiite-composed units that make up the Iraqi army are not likely to be able, by themselves, to overwhelm a Sunni stronghold like Mosul, even though they outnumber the enemy by ten to one. The United States must be prepared to provide far more combat capabilities and enablers such as command and control, intelligence, logistics, and fire support, to name just a few things.
Yet to defeat an enemy, you first must admit they exist, and this we have not done. I believe there continues to be confusion at the highest level of our government about what it is we’re facing, and the American public want clarity as well as moral and intellectual courage, which they are not now getting.
There are some who argue that violent Islamists are not an existential threat and therefore can simply be managed as criminals, or as a local issue in Iraq and Syria. I respectfully and strongly disagree.
We, as a nation, must accept and face the reality that we and other contributing nations of the world are at war, and not just in Iraq. We are in a global war with a radical and violent form of the Islamic religion, and it is irresponsible and dangerous to deny it. This enemy is far broader than the 40,000 or so fighters in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. There also exists a large segment of this radical version of Islam in over 90 nations abroad as well as here at home. Just ask those countries from which foreign fighters are flowing into the Levant to support this “jihad.”
Nor is this enemy going away any time soon. As abhorrent as this form of radical Islam is, we must recognize and understand that it is a political ideology with the foundation of its laws emanating from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s life as its guide-and nothing else is needed. This form of radical Islam is in direct conflict with a large segment of the Islamic community; a community that must stand taller and be counted right now or they will be counted among the dead-killed at the hands of these radical militants (this includes both Sunni and Shia).
Having served in the theaters of war of Iraq and Afghanistan for many years, and faced this enemy up close and personal, I have seen first hand the unrestrained cruelty of our enemy. While they may be animated by a medieval ideology, they are thoroughly modern in their capacity to kill and maim as well as precisely and very intelligently transmit their ideas, intentions and actions via the Internet.
In fact, they are increasingly capable of threatening our nation’s interests and those of our allies, and it would be foolish for us to wait until they pose an existential threat before taking decisive action. Doing so would only increase the cost in blood and treasure later for what we know must be done now.
Not surprisingly, the recent draft authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF (a minor component of a still required comprehensive strategy), signals that we are willing to wait for them to become existential. Again, this is irresponsible and dangerous thinking. This authorization requires far more and far stronger objectives and authorities for our military commanders and not be simply another limiting timetable that sets unreal expectations.
Instead, this authorization should be broad and agile, and unconstrained by unnecessary restrictions. These restrictions cause not only frustration in our military and intelligence communities but they also significantly slow down the decision-making process for numerous fleeting opportunities. If this is due to a lack of confidence in our military and intelligence leadership, get rid of them and find new ones.
And if there is not a clear, coherent, and comprehensive strategy inclusive of all elements of national power forthcoming from the administration, there should be no authorization at all, simply leave the existing one in place.
There are solutions to this problem. However, solving tough, complex problems such as eliminating this radical form of Islam from the face of the planet will require extraordinary intellect, courage, and leadership. Leadership that isn’t consensus building, but thoughtful, insightful, yet, when it matters, decisive.
We have seen this type of leadership throughout world history and we have examples in our own history-Washington, Lincoln, FDR to Ronald Reagan. When faced with threats to our way of life and the lives of our friends and allies around the world-they stepped up to lead. Whether that leadership meant forcing our will on the enemy or outmatching them with our wits and imagination, they faced the difficult reality head on.
To that end, I offer the following three strategic objectives:
* First, we have to energize every element of national power in a cohesive synchronized manner-similar to the effort during World War II or the Cold War-to effectively resource what will likely be a multi-generational struggle. There is no cheap way to win this fight.
* Second, we must engage the violent Islamists wherever they are, drive them from their safe havens and kill them. There can be no quarter and no accommodation. Any nation-state that offers safe haven to our enemies must be given one choice-to eliminate them or be prepared for those contributing nations involved in this endeavor to do so. We do need to recognize there are nations who lack the capability to defeat this threat and will likely require help to do so inside of their own internationally recognized boundaries. We must be prepared to assist those nations.
* Third, we must decisively confront the state and non-state supporters and enablers of the violent Islamist ideology and compel them to end their support to our enemies or be prepared to remove their capacity to do so. Many of these are currently considered “partners” of the United States. This must change. If our so-called partners do not act in accordance with internationally accepted norms and behaviors or international law, the United States must be prepared to cut off or severely curtail economic, military and diplomatic ties.
Winning doesn’t come without cost and solving difficult messy problems is never easy, but that’s what leaders do. Let’s lead!
Michael T. Flynn is a retired Army lieutenant general who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency until August 2014.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/ magazine/story/2015/02/why- the-iraq-offensive-will-fail- 115356.html#ixzz3SWnomSxb