Monday, September 29, 2014

Actual Mission Creep

US aircraft over the weekend struck ISIL forces threatening Syrian Kurdish population centers. This is an actual example of mission creep.

Despite an Iraq First policy against ISIL that puts our air strikes in Syria in the role of supporting the Iraq campaign, we find ourselves supporting Syria's Kurds:

U.S.-led coalition warplanes struck Islamic State fighters in Syria attacking a town near the Turkish border for the first time Saturday, as well as positions in the country's east, activists and a Kurdish official said.

I imagine that we needed to do this because in an Iraq First policy, we really need the Kurds to be our ground force in the northeast.

The Kurds of Iraq may not like being the designated ground force in Iraq if the price is watching their brethren in Syria get slaughtered by ISIL because of the arbitrary border that places Syria in the last part of what I call a Win-Build-Win strategy.

Remember, adding force to achieve the same mission--expelling ISIL from Iraq--is not mission creep. Watch out for gradual escalation perils. But it is not mission creep.

But adding the task of defending Syria's Kurds is mission creep in the context of a plan that assigns Syria a lower priority.

Given our need for Iraqi Kurdish ground forces to achieve the primary mission, I'm not sure what we can do to avoid this additional mission.

UPDATE: On the bright side, the Kurds achieved a victory by seizing a northwest border crossing in Iraq in what could eventually cut the Iraqi branch of ISIL from easy supply and reinforcement from the Syria branch:

The victory, which could make it harder for militants to operate on both sides of the frontier, was also achieved with help from Kurds from the Syrian side of the frontier, a new sign of cooperation across the border.

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters took control of the Rabia border crossing in a battle that began before dawn, an Iraqi Kurdish political source said.

This is good. As is the fact that Sunni Arabs worked with the Kurds against ISIL, indicating that a re-Awakening is possible.