Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What Victory in Iraq Will Look Like (Again)

Secretary of Defense Mattis explains what victory over ISIL's caliphate in Iraq looks like:

You say, "What does it look like" -- I mean, "What will it look like when we say that we've got success?" I think what we'll see is the local security forces, police, that sort of organization can handle it. In other words, we drive them down to a point where the locals can handle that and it's no longer a trans-regional, transnational threat.

So you -- you've got to drive them down to a point that police can handle it. Police can't handle a force that's driving tanks and using artillery, or has thousands of fighters in mobile vehicles that allow them to range far and wide. So we've got to drive them down to a point that police elements can handle it.

That's it. Victory is not turning Iraq into Vermont with heated debates over bike paths.

Victory is reducing the ISIL threat to a police problem. This is what I have described as "atomizing" the enemy.

It was what I said we needed to do during the Iraq War (and we did it, but leaving in 2011 allowed the enemy to ramp up); and it is what I said we needed to do (again) to win after Mosul fell in 2014.

That is victory in this campaign. The fight against jihadis and Islamist ideology will go on, but ideally without the need of American air and artillery support.