Uh, Houston, we have a problem. Back in January the terrorist group formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq morphed in Syria and renamed itself ISIS and crossed back into Iraq and took over western Al Anbar province and the towns of Al Ramadi and Fallujah — cities where Marines and Soldiers spent precious blood to win. At the time, this group had an estimated strength of 1,500 to 2,000. We did nothing then, as a matter of fact our President referred to them as the “jayvee” team — well, they’ve gone straight to college level.
As reported Friday by Fox News, “The CIA said Thursday that the number of Islamic State fighters has grown to as many as three times previous estimates, a day after President Obama announced he is drastically expanding the U.S. military campaign against the militants. A spokesperson for the agency told Fox News that new assessments show that the militant group can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria. The spokesperson said the new figures were determined after a review of “all-source intelligence reports” on the group from May to August.”
So I go back to Obama’s speech Wednesday evening and ask a simple question. Can you degrade and destroy an army of 31,500 (equivalent to almost three US Army light infantry divisions) with a “very significant counter-terrorism operation” focused only on air strikes? Military calculations for offensive operations will tell you that 3:1 is the preferred ratio, if you want to “destroy” the enemy. That means you are enemy-oriented and will conduct a multi-phased operation to include a pursuit phase to achieve your desired end state — the enemy’s destruction.
As we say in the military, “no plan survives first contact,” so will Obama and his crew of Keystone Cops adjust and perhaps allow the real professionals in the Pentagon and CENTCOM to develop a plan? Instead of his poll-driven political partisan drivel that doesn’t define success or victory.
I have to ask Mr. President, what are the area of operations and the area of interest? What is the shaping operation and what is the decisive operation? Where is our main effort and who are the supporting efforts? We already have further confusion in the command chain as the Obama administration announced a retired Marine General to be in charge of the operation. What does that tell the CJCS General Martin Dempsey and the CENTCOM CG General Lloyd Austin? Are they supposed to report to a retired Marine General as we execute a combat operation — and this is war, it is combat?
Folks, we have watched, in less than a year, a terrorist band of brigands expand from 1,500 or so to 31,500. And yet Obama didn’t address the issue of domestic jihadist recruitment.
Fox says, “the new numbers are a big jump from the CIA’s previous estimate that there were at least 10,000 Islamic State fighters.The CIA spokesperson said the increase is likely due to the militant’s group (Islamic terrorist army’s) recruiting gains after its success on the battlefield. “This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence,” the spokesperson said.”
The battlefield calculus has changed as the “assumptions” on the enemy’s strength has changed. Why didn’t Obama say we’re going back in to operate from Kirkuk AB which would cut down on the flight legs of our strike aircraft and would give them more “time on station” — that means being able to loiter over target areas.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no coalition. The enemy is larger than what was reported and assessed for Obama’s plan. The Arab nations are doing nothing. This is all reflective of the failure of Obama as any type of leader — and ISIS continues to grow and expand.
We’re sitting around debating and looking incompetent, weak and neutered. This is the result of electing and reelecting someone based on the cult of personality and popularity based on nothing more than charismatic speeches. America is going to pay a high price as we have witnessed the Christians, Yazidis and others at the hands of ISIS.
And Mr. President ISIS is Islamic — whether that upsets your sensibilities or not, I don’t give a damn — and thanks to you, their numbers are growing.