Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The War on Islamic State

To prevail, the West must settle on military tactics, cut off oil money, counter propaganda, strategists say
The Paris attacks and the downing of a Russian airliner have heightened determination in Moscow, Paris and Washington to defeat Islamic State, a challenge easier said than done.
Many strategists say military advances will show little progress unless more work is done to eliminate the militant group’s financing, counter its propaganda and cut a diplomatic deal among world powers on Syrian rule.
For military planners, destroying the terrorist group’s headquarters and crippling its fighting force is a relatively simple assignment, say strategists: It would require some 40,000 troops, air support and two months of fighting.
Smoke rises after U.S.-led coalition airstrike in Ramadi, 
Iraq, a day after the Paris attacks. The city, about 70 
miles west of Baghdad, is occupied by Islamic State. AP
The problem is what do to after taking responsibility for won territory. With the recent experience of Afghanistan and Iraq, that is a job no Western leader wants. Many officials, especially in Europe, believe a full-scale military response would help Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, by broadcasting an image of Westerners seizing Arab lands, attracting more followers to the militants’ cause.
Russian missiles fired Friday against Islamic State.
 Photo: TASSZuma Press
“Drawing us into a ground war with them is a trap,” said a French government official. “Frankly, I doubt it would go very well.”
The options short of a ground invasion are limited. After fighting Islamic State for more than a year through airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, military officers, diplomats and analysts agree there is no easy formula for victory.
Super-Etendard jet on the deck of France’s aircraft carrier 
Charles de Gaulle. AP
Western allies are developing ways to escalate their operations and shift tactics. France is stepping up air attacks and bringing in 24 planes on the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which will arrive in the eastern Mediterranean next week to triple French air power in the region.
The U.S. military has developed options to accelerate the fight against Islamic State, including measures designed to strengthen local partners—Kurdish forces, for example, in Iraq and Syria—against the militants.
The U.S. also is considering creation of a base in Iraq to launch raids on Islamic State leaders; tripling the number of special operation forces working in Syria; and expanding the list of Islamic State targets by risking additional civilian casualties in more aggressive airstrikes.
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