(ISIS is) not a terrorist group, they have 30,000 to 50,000 men under arms, they have tanks, they have artillery, they’re much more of a conventional threat…At the end of the day, this is a sectarian civil war within Islam, and only Islam can solve it.”–Stephen GanyardOn Sunday, September 14th, Avascent’s Col. Stephen Ganyard (USMC, Ret.) joined Lt. Col. John Nagl (USA Ret.), top Army strategist, and former commander on the ground in Iraq to discuss the White House’s strategy to combat the Islamic State. When Martha Raddatz asked about its feasibility, Ganyard replied that the first principal of war is understanding what your enemy is, not what you would like it to be. ISIS has demonstrated itself to be a conventional force, not strictly a terrorist group, and the White House runs the risk of “strategic mismatch” if addresses the Islamic State with traditional counterterrorist tactics. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has stated that ISIS presents a low level threat to the homeland, reinforcing this analysis. When Raddatz asked whether Iraqi soldiers were ready to combat conventional ISIS forces, Nagel replied no, and asserted that the key element missing from the White House’s strategy was to send U.S. Special Forces A-teams to advise Iraqi troops on the ground, in combat, not simply within training camps. When Raddatz asked about timing, as in how long will it take to address this threat, Ganyard replied that a lot could be done in the next few months with U.S. air power, but that this is a sectarian war that must be addressed by regional actors. In other words, it’s up to them.
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