All of a sudden Vice President Joe Biden has become a vocal war hawk. In his recent speech in New Hampshire he actually declared ISIS will be “chased back to the gates of hell.” Separately, today we found out an airstrike killed a top ISIS Lieutenant of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — good news, but certainly not the end of the story.
I’m not the only one asking what is our direction and how will we chase ISIS back to hell. Unfortunately, so are the troops already in harm’s way.
As reported by Fox News, “America’s “boots on the ground” in Iraq are so frustrated with the White House message about their mission against the Islamic State — which Vice President Biden vowed Wednesday to chase “to the gates of Hell” — that they’re wondering how they’ll accomplish the goal “when we can’t even leave the front gate of our base.”
Biden’s tough talk didn’t jibe with the message delivered by President Obama, who said that while his administration’s goal is to “destroy” ISIS — it also is to “shrink” it to a “manageable problem.”
Here is what you need to understand about our military.
The geographical combatant commands — CENTCOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, AFRICOM — all have planning cells, as well as at the Pentagon, and they are constantly refining existing contingency plans (CONPLANS) and in times of crises come together in what we call CAT (Crisis Action Team) planning sessions.
The results of a CAT is a proposed plan that is presented to the Chief of Staff, then subsequently to the Commanding General (CG). The CG may issue refinement guidance for the CONPLAN but bottom line, there is always a plan, and it is there on the shelf. Now, if that plan is called for execution, it will be reassessed as far as new developments such as assumptions may have become facts, and a revalidation process occurs, then the CONPLAN becomes an Execution Order (EXORD).
The question that any astute person should be asking right now is what has been the guidance issued from President Obama to the Pentagon and the CENTCOM CG? Folks, there is always a plan.
However, what is frustrating and confusing is this sense of incrementalism. As Fox Reports, “the president earlier this week deployed an additional 350 personnel to Baghdad to provide security at the U.S. Embassy and related facilities. The decision brings the additional U.S. diplomatic security contingent to 820. Defense officials say that when the additional Marines arrive, they will bring the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq to 1,213.” I guess somehow Obama settled the whole SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) issue?
But what is the task and purpose of this battalion-sized contingent in Baghdad?
“A source in contact with special operators in Iraq told Fox News that “frustration and confusion reign” among Americans on the ground there. The source relayed the complaint of an unnamed special operator: “Chase them to the Gates of Hell? How the [f—] are we going to do that when we can’t even leave the front gate of our base!?”
So the rhetoric is high, the busy body activity is part of propaganda, but the result is nothing. And worse, why would we tell the enemy the numbers we’re sending into Iraq, fully knowing they’re not engaged? That is truly amateurish.
If the guidance is to destroy ISIS, that cannot be done with an air campaign, — notice I said air campaign and not air strikes — there is a huge strategic and operational difference. Everyone keeps referring back to Clinton and the Balkans — we never destroyed the Serbian Army, they left at their own leisure — giving us the finger as they conducted retrograde operations. To destroy something means that it does not exist anymore. To disrupt something means you prevent it from achieving its intended goals and objectives — that can be accomplished in a limited manner by air power but it requires a dedicated air campaign, not pinprick strikes.
Words have meaning to military planners. It drives the planning process based on the desired end state effects issued in command guidance — when command guidance is confused, opaque, it is harder to plan.
And folks, I don’t have a freakin’ clue as to how you “manage the problem” of an Islamic terrorist army that controls a swath of territory as large as Great Britain — ergo the frustration and confusion of our military.
Fox says, “the mixed messages about how far the U.S. is willing to go has also sowed confusion on Capitol Hill, as well as in the field. “It’s very confusing,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Fox News. “The president seems to be a definite maybe.” Reacting to Obama’s comment about making ISIS “manageable,” he said: “That’s when you are closing a lane on the freeway and you have got to go down the freeway with three lanes instead of four, then you manage it. But this is ISIS. They want death and destruction to the United States of America.”
So while President Obama sows confusion and hams it up with Prince Charles and other cheeky chaps in Wales, ISIS marches on. They’re neither confused nor frustrated. They are focused and undaunted as the West sits back and deliberates.
I’ve always heard preachers warning the devil is the “author of confusion” — just sayin’…