"Why the Islamic State is Winning"

From the XX Committee:

Then there is the far from trivial matter of confusion in Washington, DC, about what exactly Operation INHERENT RESOLVE is supposed to achieve. Reports this week reveal that the Pentagon cannot decide internally just what its new Iraq war is trying to do, while coordination with the White House, and particularly Obama’s deeply troubled National Security Council, falls short of the abysmal standards of civil-military relations set by the Johnson Administration during their failed war in Vietnam. Also as in the late 1960s, Pentagon displeasure at NSC micromanagement of the air war, particularly by the unpleasant and unqualified National Security Adviser Susan Rice, has leaked into the media in impressive, and depressing, detail.

To make matters worse, the current American strategy to defeat Da’ish, inasmuch as it exists at all, is based on the assumption that the United States and its allies will bring airpower to act as the hammer to crush Da’ish on the anvil of the Iraqi military. That force, created at enormous expense in American time, talent and treasure over the past decade, is frankly a joke. Yesterday, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey explained the requirement concisely: “We’re going to need about 80,000 competent Iraqi security forces to recapture territory lost, and eventually the city of Mosul, to restore the border.” Regrettably, Baghdad has nowhere near that many “competent” troops, despite the expenditure of billions of U.S. dollars to that end. In reality, the Iraqi military has roughly nine serviceable brigades, a bit more than 20,000 battle-ready troops who can be relied upon to confront Da’ish with any hope of success — and even that may be an optimistic estimate.

We can complain about the Iraqi military, our own optempo, intelligence failures, or strategic listlessness all we like, but everything that’s going wrong in Iraq finally comes down to just one very basic thing.

ISIL has the audacity and ruthlessness to win a war, and we do not.

That’s not to say they will win — groups this murderous tend to drown themselves in the blood of their victims. Eventually. But win or lose, it will take years of concerted effort at home and abroad for the United States to prove that it has become something other than a paper tiger.