We’ve discussed here the actions of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his warnings to President Obama. I believe Duterte was concerned about a Hillary Clinton presidency and an even weaker America. Duterte needs a strong America that reasserts its respect and regard in the Pacific Rim and thwarts the advance of communist China. Also, Duterte still has a very ingrained problem with Islamic jihadism… a bomb was just found in a garbage can outside the U.S. embassy there. But that’s not all…
As reported by Reuters, “The Philippines military dropped bombs from planes and rained artillery shells on southern rebels on Monday, the third day of a siege of militants sympathetic to Islamic State, during which 35 guerrillas have been killed, the army said.
Several U.S.-made OV-10B planes circled in the air before diving and dropping payloads on fortified positions of the Maute rebel group, which has occupied a town hall in Lanao province, said army spokesman Major Filemon Tan.
“As of noon today, there’s heavy engagement in the area as our troops are conducting clearing operations,” Tan said, adding 13 soldiers were wounded in the offensive, which began on Saturday.
Thousands of residents have fled as hundreds of troops, backed by heavy artillery and armoured vehicles, moved in to flush out the rebels. Italian-made trainer planes and OV-10 Bronco aircraft were also called in help retake the old municipal hall. The government has blamed the Maute Group for a Sept. 2 bombing at a street market in the hometown of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that killed 14 people and wounded dozens. Several suspected members of the group were arrested a month later and, according to the defense minister, video clips were found of them pledging loyalty to the Islamic State cause.
Duterte has recently been warning about the possibility of Islamic State taking root in the Philippines if driven out of Iraq and Syria, saying his country needed to avoid their “contamination”, as did Malaysia and Indonesia.”
This lends credence to what many are terming the global Islamic jihad and that it’s not some occurrence limited to the Middle East, but spans the globe. I’ve often articulated when speaking that this extends from Nigeria and Boko Haram, all the way to the Philippines and Abu Sayyaf and this Maute rebel group.
It’s imperative that we see this from a strategic perspective and develop the means by which we shrink the spread and influence. We must seek out and uncover the means of financial resourcing, and cut off that flow. We need to work with other nations in order to shut down jihadist transit routes — air, land, sea. And that includes here in the United States, securing our own borders and stopping the flow of jihadist cells enabled by the transnational criminal organizations (TNCOs), the drug cartels.
Also, we must identify the state sponsors of terror and sanction them into acquiescence — oops, sadly Barack Obama is financing Islamic terror with his economic assistance to Iran. You can bet Obama’s enriching the coffers of Iran will have far reaching consequences, and it will place our own troops in harm’s way.
The next SecDef must call a conference with major ally defense secretaries and ministers and develop a global strategy to defeat Islamic jihadism.
This isn’t just about military solutions. It’s about how we can use our collective military might, combined with diplomatic efforts and economic means to deny sanctuary, interdict the flow of resource support, implement a combined information operation, and cordon off the Islamic jihadists and reduce their sphere of influence.
The combined military strength is about a potent deterrent force that isn’t focused on nation building and forward-deployed forces. Rather, we must be at the ready with power projection platforms, forces ready to go and conduct strike operations based on actionable intelligence.
I know folks love the drone thing, but that is not a panacea, nor does it represent a strategy. And actually, we’ve seen the downside of drones used without credible eyes on target –collateral damage. Yes, there’s a place for drone use, but it must be delegated down to the operational combat commander, or even lower, to the tactical level. It’s time we end the ludicrous practice of “whack a mole” and instead have a global strategy to defeat a global enemy.
Consider the paradigm of World War II, and how we came upon a strategy to defeat two very powerful enemies, who had a head start, in two combat theaters of operation. That took four years, and we’ve been at this fight since September 11, 2001. Actually, we can go back to the Beirut barracks bombing done by Hezbollah, an Islamic terror group and client of Iran.
So, ask yourself, why in the heck would we be giving billions of dollars to Iran, in order for Hezbollah to continue to be supported — they are operating freely in Syria. And reports have it that Bashar Assad met with the Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah, at the Syrian-Lebanon border. There is a 21st century axis of evil that has formed — not forming — and we’ve been lacking in principled leadership these past eight years. The enemy has once again been given a head start, but that does not mean we can’t “walk them down” and overtake them. It will require Herculean and visionary leadership, along with a strategic plan.
Our men and women in uniform are ready, they always have been. They just want someone who uses a simple term: victory.