The Republican majority on the House Armed Services Committee took preemptive action on President Obama’s address to the nation tonight on ISIS, releasing its five elements of a successful strategy to destroy the terrorist group:
1. Recognizes the Immediate Threat to US National Security
• ISIL is more than a regional threat, it poses a clear and certain threat to the United States, our interests, and our allies and partners across the globe.
• Waiting until a terrorist organization is planning an “imminent” attack will cost American lives, as we learned 13 years ago on September 11th.
• ISIL also poses an imminent and existential threat to our allies in a critical region within the world. Their assistance is key to comprehensively and sustainably handling this threat.
2. Calls for Swift Action with a Clear Objective to Destroy ISIL
• The window for targeting ISIL while it is still operating largely in the open and has not yet fully blended in with the populace is closing.
• A go-slow strategy gives ISIL the space and time to defeat potential partners, attract more foreign fighters, secure additional funding, and plot and plan for future attacks against the United States, Europe, and our interests in the region.
• Our allies recognize that now is the time to act and are seeking US support and leadership. Missing the opportunity presented by this coalition will make the job harder in the long run and will not lead to a sustainable solution.
3. Embraces Simultaneous Operations In Iraq and Syria
• An Iraq first, or Iraq only strategy cannot sufficiently erode ISIL. Decisive simultaneous action in Iraq and Syria is required to deny ISIL a safehaven.
• Waiting until the political situation in Iraq becomes more clear fails to create the space for moderate Sunnis to reject ISIL. Rather it allows ISIL to further radicalize the population and foment sectarian tensions.
• Actions in Syria can be tailored to reduce the risk that operations embolden Assad or Jahbat al-Nusra and other al Qaeda affiliates.
4. Establishes the US as a Leading Coalition Partner
• The US is uniquely able to build, lead, and support coalition operations. There are military options available to us that leverage the capabilities of regional allies on the ground, with the US in a supporting role.
• It is a misleading to suggest that the use of any American forces on the ground is akin to “serial occupation.”
• There is a narrow opportunity to defeat ISIL that will not require American boots on the ground in “surge” level numbers, but anyone who suggests a minimalist approach will be successful is not being clear-eyed about the challenge and resiliency of ISIL.
5. Does Not Rely On a Counter Terrorism (CT)-Only Approach
• Air strikes alone will not defeat ISIL, or meaningfully degrade them.
• Our allies are willing to lead the fight, but they will not be able to succeed on the ground without US support in areas like command & control, intelligence, refueling, and special operations.
• A strategy that closely resembles the CT centric standoff operations of the last 5 years is one that cannot prevent this threat from growing. Nor can it sufficiently roll ISIL back as a threat.
Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) will present his strategy to defeat ISIS tomorrow morning at AEI.