NEW YORK, NY – Alongside General Daniel Bolger (USA, Ret.), who just published Why We Lost regarding the Global War on Terror, Colonel Steve Ganyard (USMC, ret.) discussed the current U.S. defense strategy to combat ISIS, involving air strikes, intelligence support, and a potential troop surge.
ISIS is a totally different animal it’s not Al Qaeda, it’s not the Taliban it is something very, very different, so it’s the judgment of the past thirteen years of war that will guide us now.”—Steve GanyardGeneral Martin Dempsey, who has denounced ISIS as “a bunch of midgets running around with a really radical ideology,” was in Iraq this month; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is considering doubling U.S. forces there to 3,000.
Approximately 900 U.S. led air strikes have slowed but not stopped ISIS, as evidenced by their continued hold on large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. Despite this, Bolger and Ganyard agreed that additional boots on the ground is not the advisable solution. General Bolger pointed out that increasing U.S. troops in the area would simply result in U.S. casualties which would embolden, not dissuade ISIS combatants. This fight must be carried by local, Iraqi soldiers, he insisted. However, Colonel Ganyard commented that the U.S. “spent hundreds of millions of dollars and a decade trying to teach the Iraqis how to do this on our own, so what we’re doing now is probably just a band aid fix.”
General Bolger emphasized that combating ISIS requires a multi-year effort; the U.S. must persist, knowing that the Iraqi military is not going to improve overnight. Colonel Ganyard added that to achieve the U.S. goal of degrading and destroying ISIS, the President needs to set a strategy, and currently has bipartisan support in Congress, which is debating the legalities of how to do so.