Ramping Up the ISIS Fight

The US military is intensifying and adapting the campaign against ISIS, and is “gathering momentum on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. For the coalition’s military campaign to be successful, Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said, it “must reduce ISIL’s territorial control, undermine its brand and aura of invincibility, and destroy its warfighting capability.” The campaign is doing so with strikes against ISIS targets and developing and supporting partners on the ground, he said. After taking recommendations to the President in October, Dunford said the military is now implementing those decisions, and is “encouraged” by recent operations. “I believe we are starting to identify and implement a number of initiatives to move the campaign forward,” he said. Still, several committee members expressed concern about whether President Obama has outlined a clear plan. “If we’re going to be serious about ISIS, the President needs to assign the military a clear mission and then allow the military to carry it out,” HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in his opening remarks. Rep. Adam Smith, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said the Administration must have a clearer strategy, be able to state it more clearly, and rally allies, but it must not “fall into the trap of thinking that US military might is what’s going to solve this problem.”