Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Monday pushed back against President-elect Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that the offensive against Mosul is a “total disaster” because US and Iraqi forces didn’t keep the operation a total secret beforehand.

“It’s actually important that the enemy know that and that ISIL [knows] that we intend and will destroy them,” Carter said at a forum hosted by The Atlantic Magazine and the venture capital firm 1776, according to the Washington Examiner. “There are secret tactics involved there, but the fact that we’re going to Mosul and Raqqa is clear because they’re the two biggest cities.”

Throughout the campaign, Trump has cited Gens. Patton and MacArthur while calling for the “element of surprise” to be used in battlefield operations. “Why can’t they win first and talk later?” he told ABC News. “Why do they have to say three months before the attack, we’re going in?”

But as Carter and many military strategists have pointed out, it’s quite obvious to ISIS that their two biggest cities of Mosul and Raqqa will need to be defended against Iraqi, Syrian, or US forces at some point. The defense secretary’s comments also bring to mind the importance of “information operations,” where forces attempt to psychologically torment an enemy before an attack.

The US military uses tactics like blasting Arabic messages over loudspeakers urging ISIS fighters to surrender, or drops leaflets saying much the same thing. This is the kind of thing every military does before large battles, since it often works pretty well to get at least some enemy fighters to surrender — and those fighters turn over intelligence

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Featured image courtesy of Reuters