“Former U.S. Commanders Take Increasingly Dim View of War on ISIS”

Strongly recommended for your attention today, a revealing look at what some former US commanders with deep experience in CENTCOM think of what is going on there now.

“We’ve got good momentum going,” General Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Central Command, who is overseeing the war, said Tuesday. “We are really into the heart of the caliphate.”

But some of his predecessors disagree. James Mattis, a retired Marine general who commanded Central Command from 2010 to 2013, says the war on ISIS is “unguided by a sustained policy or sound strategy [and is] replete with half-measures.” Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine four-star who held the same post from 1997 to 2000, says he doesn’t think he could do so today. “I don’t want to be part of a strategy that in my heart of hearts I know is going to fail,” he says. “It’s a bad strategy, it’s the wrong strategy, and maybe I would tell the President that he would be better served to find somebody who believes in it, whoever that idiot may be.”

(And note, please, the reference in the opening paragraph to we’re-winning-by-Vietnam-standards. That ought to get everyone’s attention.)

I’ve asked the question before in different ways, but I’ll ask it again– What exactly is the US strategy against ISIS? I have yet to be told, and I work in the building where that answer, whatever it is, ought to be readily at hand.

If we don’t know what we aim to do, we’ve lost. Forget the numbers of this and that destroyed, they won’t matter.

 

About vmijpp

VMIJPP hails from the star city of the south, Roanoke, Virginia. A 1989 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, he is a retired artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps, with time in both the active and reserve sides. He served in Iraq in 2004, and in Afghanistan in 2009-2010. He joined the magnificent OPFOR.com as a guest blogger from the now defunct but never uninteresting Rule 308, where he denounced gun control and other aspects of tyranny, and proclaimed the greatness of the United States. When the sun set on OPFOR.com, he migrated here with Keydet1976 and the others.
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3 Responses to “Former U.S. Commanders Take Increasingly Dim View of War on ISIS”

  1. CooperEP '04 says:

    I just completed JPME Phase 1 through the Air Command & Staff College, and I raised much the same point during classroom discussions on the war with ISIL. I argued that there is no workable end state, there are no useful metrics, and the internationally agreed objectives that we do have are so subjective that I have no idea how anyone would be able to say that we met them. President Obama is quoted as saying this “We have undertaken a comprehensive effort to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.” see the link below. I think that the US needs to break down the end state into workable concepts that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based (SMART goals from Lean Sigma training). The point is not to let the lower levels of command figure it all out, but rather to fill in the details for how best to exercise the assets and capabilities meet those goals. How can we possibly fight an irregular war without knowing what we want to do and how to do it?

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/6/obama-changes-objective-war-isis-destroy-defeat/

    Like

    • DaveO says:

      Cooper, excellent point, but something to consider is that the higher echelons may be limited to broad, outline-type goals and objectives. It is for tactical commanders (Corps and below) to fill in the blanks with the very detailed details. President Carter’s failures are directly attributed to his personal belief in filling in the details when he wasn’t knowledgeable. So we got Desert 1 instead freed hostages.

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  2. Pingback: The Structure of Strategy in the American Revolution | In The Old Corps

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