When President Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that ISIS was contained, he opened himself up to criticism. President Obama actually said “What is true, from the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq and in Syria. They’ll come in. They’ll leave. But you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters.”
It’s now well-documented fact that ISIS launched a series of sophisticated, well-executed terrorist attacks hours after President Obama made those ill-advised remarks. During his interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto, Leon Panetta, President Obama’s former Secretary of Defense, said that it was imperative that NATO invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter. Article 5 of NATO’s Charter states with emphatic clarity that an attack against one of the member nations is an attack against all NATO nations. Later, he said that he thinks “that it’s a real opportunity to try to bring together the nations of Europe and NATO and our allies in the Middle East together into one fight against ISIS.” Finally, Panetta said that ISIS had to be defeated, adding that it couldn’t be contained.
That brings us to what’s mockingly referred to as US strategy against ISIS. The truth is that President Obama doesn’t have a real strategy to defeat ISIS. Since the start of air operations against ISIS in August, 2014, the US military has averaged 7 sorties per day again. Because the US Rules of Engagement, aka ROE, are so restrictive, 75% of all sorties return without dropping a single bomb.
By comparison, during Operation Desert Storm, which was the original Gulf War, the US Air Force and US Navy flew an average of 1,100 sorties per day. Rarely did those jets return without dropping all of their ordnance. The US bombing mission against Bosnia averaged 350 sorties per day.
What President Obama smugly suggests is a successful military campaign is actually the military equivalent of hitting Big Foot in the toe with a small hammer. It’s been mockingly been referred to as a series of pin-prick attacks.
The real conversation shouldn’t be about whether ISIS is contained. It shouldn’t be about whether ISIS is conducting terrorist attacks in western Europe. The conversations should be about how rapidly the US-led coalition is killing ISIS fighters. The goal should be to hit the ISIS terrorists with great ferocity and powerful impact.
There’s nothing that dampens terrorist recruiting faster than eliminating entire classes of ‘recruits’. If the US-led coalition isn’t rapidly degrading ISIS’ training camps and killing their recruits, then the strategy is failing.
Until now, ISIS recruitment has flourished because they’ve been able to brag about all their successful terrorist attacks and how the once-mighty US military hasn’t hurt them. That conversation would dramatically change the minute their training bases got demolished and their leaders got killed.