This week, Reuters reported that officials in the U.S. military believe ISIS to be on the defensive after many months of sustaining losses to their finances and manpower through coalition actions. According to Army Colonel Steve Warren, ISIS is now operating in a defensive posture and beginning to lose the fight.
“They have been able to replenish their forces at roughly the same rate as we’ve been able to kill their forces. That’s hard to sustain,” Colonel Warren said. He explains that ISIS has been forced to cut their members’ pay. These monthly stipends range from $400 for the ordinary, run-of-the-mill fanatic up to a high of $800 for their top-tiered foreign fanatic. Apparently, these numbers have been reduced by half, though the foreign fighters have been able to retain a bit more of theirs. This comes despite continued opposition with Russia’s actions in Syria. Colonel Warren states that ISIS has lost nearly 40 percent of its territory in Iraq, but only 10 percent in Syria, and lays the blame at the feet of Russian military operations there, and specifically, their air strikes, which he contends are “imprecise, reckless, and irresponsible.”
This news comes at a critical time for the U.S. military, which has been lambasted as of late, with a Gallup poll earlier this month stating that the American public has lost faith in its prowess. Other articles claim top officials have failed miserably in achieving intended objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, the annual defense budget was released this month, a massive number to sustain our massive forces across the world to some criticism.
A report on TheHill.com, released on Friday the 19th, stated that the disconnect continues to widen between the evolving security threats America and her allies face, and our resourcing of conventional forces we have in place. The conventional forces we continue to fund are less and less effective against nonlinear enemies such as ISIS. However, America does have the answer to meet the gauntlet laid down by these fanatical terrorists: special operations forces.
By increasing funding across the special operations spectrum, including developing cyber and intelligence assets, we can equip our military with the forces it needs to meet and overcome the security challenges we now face, and those we will face for decades to come. What’s needed is a military that easily evolves and adjusts, ensuring the enemy cannot adapt to our tactics. The recent headway our forces and our allies have made can be attributed to the use of special operations.
Not that conventional forces are a thing of the past, nor am I saying they don’t have a place in America’s 21st-century military. That being said, the current security threat can be more effectively neutralized with the use of these specialized units. Change is a four-letter word in the government and our military. However, nothing proves it’s needed more than success.
We don’t have the luxury of taking our time to change our strategic mentality. Our military leadership and elected officials need to take a hard look at what hasn’t worked, such as nearly everything that was done in Iraq and Afghanistan, and consider solutions. Next, focus on what has achieved real results, such as our actions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and adjust fire as necessary. On day one of basic training, I was given some advice that remains with me to this day, and that should be applied now when facing the unpredictable (as combat always is): Improvise, adapt, and overcome. To thine own self be true, Uncle Sam.