By Drew Berquist
As the campaign season edges closer to election day, Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton has begun to speak more frequently about her plans to fight Islamic extremism. More specifically, her strategy to defeat ISIS was revealed during the Commander-in-Chief Forum aboard the USS Intrepid in New York City. During the forum both candidates were given several opportunities to discuss their policies and plans with NBC’s Matt Lauer, should they be elected President.
Of particular interest was Mrs. Clinton’s proposed plans to fight ISIS, citing that the United States will not put troops on the ground to battle what, our staff will tell you, is the most sophisticated terror group the world has seen to date. The concept of no troops is especially interesting, given the fact that we already have troops on the ground, with the numbers continuing to climb. Perhaps, though not stated directly, her plan would be to prematurely remove this small and insufficient number of men and women on the ground currently, that much is unclear. Regardless, the bedrock of her plan is to fight ISIS by utilizing air power alone to defeat the group, a policy that is not only flawed and impractical, but extremely dangerous.
…by keeping a toe in the water and only dropping munitions from above, it provides the appearance to the masses that we are committed to destroying ISIS, while we are in fact allowing their reach and influence to grow exponentially.
Admittedly, I personally am not a fan of Mrs. Clinton or her policies, but regardless of my political leanings, I will tell you as a counterterrorism expert and someone that has fought the Taliban, al-Qai’da and ISIS over a multitude of deployments, air power alone will not work. It is not working now, and it will not work in the future. By not utilizing special operations forces on the ground to their full potential and hesitating to press in on ISIS territory with speed and precision, we are allowing them to plan, train and execute new missions in the region and abroad. Our current emphasis on air power has taken the U.S. and her partners on a two year plus journey that has resulted in little success and forecasts a long road ahead. For reference, in October 2001 the Taliban were removed from power in short order by U.S. operators, which forced al-Qai’da and the remaining Taliban factions into hiding, further disrupting day-to-day operational planning. Is that conflict over? No, it continues on because we have clouded our vision with regards to the mission in Afghanistan and sadly there is no true end to a war against an ideology. The point remains that by keeping a toe in the water and only dropping munitions from above, it provides the appearance to the masses that we are committed to destroying ISIS, while we are in fact allowing their reach and influence to grow exponentially.
…the bedrock of her plan is to fight ISIS by utilizing air power alone to defeat the group, a policy that is not only flawed and impractical, but extremely dangerous.
Meanwhile, the self-declared caliphate’s two primary hubs, Raqqah, Syria and Mosul, Iraq both stand strong and while we have killed some of the group’s leadership, destroyed some of their resources and recaptured Fallujah, we remain in a conflict that should be in maintenance mode after battling ISIS for two years – vice the early stage that we currently reside.
No doubt, these cities will fall at the hands of our proxies, with the support of U.S. advisors, but only time will tell what future carnage will come to us and our partners in Europe, as we have allowed them to spread their message globally and insert operatives into areas across the globe. Events that a more decisive approach would have certainly slowed, if not prevented all together.
Drew Berquist is the founder and a Senior Contributor for OpsLens. Drew served as a counterterrorism officer for the United States Intelligence Community, where he performed more than thirty deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct intelligence operations. Drew has commented on national security matters on Lou Dobbs, Dennis Miller and a number of other shows throughout the country. Follow Drew and his staff of contributors on Twitter at @OpsLens