“Constant pressure on the Islamic State” is the key to defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, said Wednesday at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. By attacking oil infrastructure, information systems, as well as military positions, US forces seek to “present them [ISIS] with as many obstacles as we can.” Calling ISIS an “adaptive enemy,” Votel also insisted that, even as US military efforts have focused on the effort to retake Mosul in recent days, it is “extraordinarily important to apply pressure in many areas in Iraq and Syria” to prevent ISIS fighters from simply abandoning one stronghold and reconstituting in new locations. Ultimately, Votel conceded, the defeat of ISIS will require a political solution and he said CENTCOM has “synched our military planning with humanitarian planning and political planning” to facilitate a positive political transition after military operations accomplish the immediate goals. In the case of Mosul, the US military has a post-conflict “framework in place” that includes a “high-level commission” made up of key regional stakeholders. Still, Votel said, “there is a lot more to do” in planning for post-liberation Mosul.
Gen. Mark A. Milley handed over his responsibilities as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the nation’s top military officer—to Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. on a gray Sept. 29 morning, marking a milestone in a turbulent era of U.S. defense policy.