Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Leaning Forward

The new AFRICOM commander awaiting confirmation would like the authority to strike ISIL in Libya. The ISIL and jihadi problem in Africa is in more than Libya. But I have a suggestion for a tool that LTG Waldhauser would find useful.

Yes, the war against jihadis is in Libya, too, so we really need Libya War 2.0 as well:

Marine Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser told his Senate confirmation hearing that the U.S. military was making preparations for possible military strikes in Libya against the militants.

But Waldhauser noted limitations on the current commander's ability to order strikes against the group in Libya, which require adhering to White House guidance. That differs from the rules of engagement in Iraq or Syria.

Asked by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham whether it would be wise for Obama to give the commander of the Africa Command the authority to go after Islamic State targets in Africa "on your own," Waldhauser said: "It would be wise."

Libya has NATO bases in Italy nearby as well as transiting warships that can contribute to such strikes.

But the continent is big and jihadis are in more places than just coastal Libya or places within range of our Djibouti-based forces and CENTCOM assets in the Arabian Sea.

So the general will need the means to project power around the continent if he hopes to be able to strike such jihadi militants wherever they are.

Of course, I will suggest modularized auxiliary cruisers for this power projection mission.

And it could be used for missions in Libya, for that matter.

UPDATE: The non-Libya portfolio could be more important by the time the general assumes command:

The campaign against the main ISIL base in Sirte, which began in late May, has succeeded in getting to Sirte and taking most of it from ISIL and apparently killing or dispersing most of the ISIL defenders.

And note the presence of 100 American and British special forces to enable the campaign.

As I've been writing for the last 6 months, the ISIL gunmen don't seem to be loving death much these days. Sure, digging them out where they are in terrorist mode is hard. And destroying the ideology that spawns them will take time and effort.

But they don't seem up to holding territory in the face of determined opposition. I've noticed this in Iraq, and now Libya seems to suffer this problem.

So chasing scattered jihadis around Africa after their defeat in Libya could make the AFRICOM Queen modularized auxiliary cruiser more important to have.

UPDATE: More from Strategypage on one aspect of the long-term problem--teaching kids to hate "the other" in religious schools.

When that hate is your only marketable skill, joining the jihad makes sense.