After the public outcry against the naked aggression and subsequent atrocities and genocide of Christians committed by the Islamic State – IS (formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), President Obama final spoke out on September 10. After inaction, despite the Islamic State conquests of Mosul and other parts of Northern Iraq, the President had admitted “we don’t have a strategy” for dealing with the Islamic State. However, on September 10, the President finally claimed he would “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, but then went further to say “These American forces will not have a combat mission; we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq,” adding that the mission “will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; it will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Obama then requested $500 million from Congress for the training of “moderate” rebels in Syria to act as a proxy ground force against the Islamic State. Even after General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress he could foresee requiring US ground troops, the President rebuked that idea with public statements denying “any” use of “boots on the ground” against IS. Though the President is correct in the aim of destroying the Islamic State, he is wrong in his strategy.
First, most Americans are outraged that we sat back and allowed the conquests and atrocities in northern Iraq and Syria during July, August and early September. This was at a time when the Islamic State was vulnerable to our air power while moving across the deserts of northern Iraq. This was before the Islamic state obtained Billions from banks in Mosul, substantial numbers of oil wells, and substantial amounts of US equipment. Now, we are facing a much stronger and entrenched foe. We allowed not only the “in your face” video beheadings of defenseless American citizens before acting. We allowed the systematic murder, gang-raping, and “cleansing” of Christians throughout areas controlled by the Islamic State and destruction of Christian Holy Sites like the tomb of Jonah and other sites in Nineveh. The Islamic State has declared they seek a worldwide, Sharia Law Caliphate, and Jihad against all non-Muslims. They have declared the United States as an enemy, and have made calls for attacks against the homes (and families) of off-duty members of the military. They seek terror attacks against the US. As time moves forward, they are bringing in radical Muslims from throughout the world, and are now clearing Kurds from Northern Syria. This must be stopped soon, but requires the right strategy.
To defeat the Islamic State, we must first understand the necessity of defeating the enemy ideology and not just the current group of thugs. The President was wrong to disclaim any connection between the group and radical Islam by stating “ISIL is not Islamic”. Telling the truth is part of winning. We must take on the “head of the snake” for the Islamist movement around the world (those seeking a transnational Sharia Law Caliphate with Jihad against all non-Muslims) The Muslim Brotherhood was the original Islamist group and formed as a reaction to the end of the Caliphate in 1924. It has propagated the ideology which spawned Hamas, Al Qaeda, and has helped radicalize many who are now fighting with the Islamic State. The use of Taqiyya (deception against the infidel) has caused naïve politicians in both parties to believe the Muslim Brotherhood is just another political party. Same with a number of radical Islamist groups funding and encouraging the spread of Jihad and helping the spread of groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. We must not help support others with this radical ideology in order to “defeat” the Islamic State group, If so, we will only face another version of the Islamic State, as we have fought versions of Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, many of those facing President Assad in Syria (who himself is an “Alewite” and not Sunni Muslim) are Islamist and allied with the Islamic State.
With that in mind, the President’s plan for fighting the Islamic State is operationally flawed. The last thing we should be doing is spending US treasure to help fund groups facing Assad in Syria. This will backfire, and doesn’t recognize the true threat. We need to be focused on radical Islamists of the Islamic State and others seeking the same vision of the worldwide Sharia Law Caliphate. Syria will become a tar baby and soak up our resources while not taking on the real enemy.
We will have to put some “boots on the ground”. Most know the Islamic State invasion of northern Iraq demonstrates clearly the mistake of not keeping a presence of US advisors when we left Iraq. American troops would have helped prevent the route of the Iraqi Army in the north, and the capture of so much American equipment. The American military understands what it will take, but understands that the Islamic State cannot be allowed to continue. Too much sacrifice has been made for us to lose everything now.
We should work with the Kurdish forces. We should be putting aircraft in Northern Iraq and hitting ISIS with a true air campaign (150 missions per day or more, and not the 150-200 overall). We should also be using Special Operations to help the Kurdish forces with targeting and advisors with local forces in Iraq (with the access to US air, intel, and other assets). However, we should not be funding/training/arming opposition forces in Syria. The opposition forces are focused on taking down Assad’s government, not primarily fighting ISIS (who are their “allies” in fighting Assad). Arming and assisting rebel forces puts us in the crosshairs of the Syrian military, and the Syrian military has sophisticated ADA weaponry (in some cases manned by Russians). Again, this puts American treasure in dubious hands, puts our pilots at risk in flying missions against ISIS, and puts us in a confusing circular firing squad.
If we are going to accomplish the mission, we just cannot run a proxy war in Syria the way we did in Afghanistan. We can work with the Kurdish Forces in northern Iraq, but Americans will have to help beyond the air. Interestingly, a substantial number of Kurds live in Northern Syria, and we could ally with the Kurds in Syria to help fight the Islamic State. We would know the motivation and priority would be the Islamic State and not Assad.
Lastly, as we fight this struggle, it must be one in which we face and call out the forces of Radical Islam, so we defeat this ideology once and for all. Those funding radical Islam, those Imams encouraging the radicalism, and those, like the Muslim Brotherhood, who seek to bring the ideology throughout the world. This will be a tough fight, but less sacrifice will be required now than will be if we wait. It is time to act!
God Bless America.
By: Bill Connor
Lieutenant Colonel Bill Connor of Orangeburg SC is a decorated 24 year Army and combat veteran. He is an expert in counterinsurgency combat. Connor spent 12 years (1990 – 2002) of full time service as an Airborne Ranger, holding various commands such as Ranger Company Commander and General’s Aide. Connor recently made the Colonel’s List and will soon take the official rank as full bird Colonel. Since leaving full time service, Connor has continued to serve in the National Guard (2003 – 2008) and has served in the Army Reserve 2008 – present.
Connor volunteered for combat duty in Afghanistan where he served as Senior US Advisor in Helmand Province and American military liaison to British forces in Afghanistan. For his service during deployment, Connor was awarded the Bronze Star. He currently is Director of the Army’s Command and General Staff College (ILE) in S.C., and is a member of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team.
Connor, along with partner W. Thomas Smith Jr. founded National Defense Consultants LLC, a partnership providing clients with military analysis ranging from geostrategy to special operations; counterterrorism; ground, Naval, and air combat; military leadership and military law. Connor is also the author of the book “Articles from War”
Connor is a graduate of The Citadel and the University of South Carolina (USC) School of Law where he earned a Juris Doctorate degree. He is an attorney and Law Partner for “Horger and Connor, LLC where he has earned an “AV Preeminent” rating, the highest peer evaluation rating of ethics and ability for an attorney practicing law in the United States.
Connor is a former candidate for the US Senate, (2014) as well as having run for S.C. Lieutenant Governor (making the runoff election in the Republican primary 2010.) Connor also served as National Security Advisor for presidential candidate and GOP nominee runner-up Rick Santorum.
Connor recently served as GOP Chairman for South Carolina’s sixth district. Currently he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Orangeburg Christian Academy, and on the State Board of “Youth Challenge”.
Connor has been a contributing author for The South Carolina Conservative Dot Com since 2012.