The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford is planning on a persistent, long term commitment to the war against ISIS.
That commitment would extend well past the current military operations in Iraq and Syria, and would be part of a greater strategy to combat a ‘trans-regional threat’ posed by jihadist terrorism.
Dunford referenced the estimated 45,000 foreign fighters ISIS has drawn to fight in Iraq and Syria as an example of the international scope facing the U.S. and NATO. With the Islamic State’s eventual military defeat on the battlefield, western nations will inevitably be faced with the prospect of tens of thousands of radicalized terrorists with combat experience returning to their homes.
Fighters from over 100 nations around the world have traveled to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.
Dunford’s announcement precedes a draft plan, to be submitted on Monday, of the military plan to defeat the Islamic State. President Donald Trump tasked Secretary of Defense James Mattis to come up with such a plan and present it by the end of February.
In addition to the regional and global strategy against the Islamic State, Dunford suggested a longer and larger presence in Iraq would be necessary to stabilize the Iraqi military and the country.
The announcement comes as President Trump has vowed to execute the largest military buildup the United States has ever seen. With the renewed emphasis on the military, and the President’s stated goal to ‘obliterate’ the Islamic State, it appears Mattis and Dunford will be afforded the opportunity to execute their plans.
The fight against ISIS is also bringing the U.S. and Russia increasingly closer, as each pursues its own foreign policy aims in Syria.
Last week, General Dunford met with his Russian counterpart specifically to address the issue of deconfliction in Syrian airspace.
As the Assad regime regains its composure and territorial footholds, Russia’s air support role is bringing it closer and closer to American air operations against the Islamic State.
American officials are hesitant to create the appearance of cooperation with the Russians, as there is already legislation passed expressly forbidding such joint military operations.
Image courtesy of Reuters