National security experts say Obama’s promise to eradicate ISIS through airstrikes is doomed to failure.
Obama: No boots on the ground.
“What a waste of time,” Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and counterterrorism official at the State Department, told The Washington Times. “We have not learned a thing in 80 years. [The Islamic State] is an army. The air power is not going to get the job done. Until you put troops in and kill these guys, they’re going to continue. They adjust to tactics. They meld into [the] civilian population.”
According to the Times, Islamic State soldiers will adjust to airstrikes and continue fighting. They are now well integrated in Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi and other Iraqi towns and it will take skilled land combatants to evict them, block by block.
Republicans in Congress agree it will take ground troops to put a stop to ISIS.
“It will not take divisions. But there’s no way around it; American boots will be standing on sand,” Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said on Thursday. “Americans will be shot at, and they will be shooting back. There’s simply no other way to do this… As much as I want the president’s approach to work, I believe the minimalist strategy he outlined last night will not get us there.”
“An F-16 is not a strategy. Airstrikes alone will not accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Republican House Speaker John Boehner earlier this week. “The president has made clear that he doesn’t want U.S. boots on the ground. Well, somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”
“In fact, my AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force] doesn’t have restrictions,” Republican Senator James Inhofe told PBS on Wednesday. “It doesn’t have guidelines, because I think this is what the president needs to do. Obviously, it’s going to — right now, there are ground troops already over there. And if it takes ground troops, whatever it takes.
Senator Marco Rubio, once considered the Tea Party “Crown Prince,” also believes ground troops will ultimately be required.
“I hope it does not, but it very may well require at some point the engagement of, at a minimum, special operations forces and potentially ground troops,” he told CNN. “But I don’t think that’s something we need to do right way. I think the ideal outcome would be that on the ground, it would be local forces that do the work. But we need to be honest with the American people: It could require that.”
In June, two divisions of Iraqi soldiers — approximately 30,000 men — discarded their weapons and uniforms and fled a force of 800 ISIS fighters.
According to experts about a quarter of Iraq’s military force is “combat ineffective” with low morale and corruption among its leadership.
“This is an army that only part of which is trained, the rest does not even show up for duty; and most of the soldiers and officers are not subordinate to their commanders – but also to their political and ethnic leaders,” explains Zvi Bar’el.
The Kurdish Peshmerga is also not up to fighting ISIS.
Although widely considered well-trained and competent, in August it suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of ISIS and was forced to concede territory gained in decades of fighting with Saddam Hussein. It took U.S. airstrikes to prevent ISIS from capturing the Kurdish capitol of Erbil.
Kurdish leaders are calling for heavy armaments from the United States to fight the Islamic State. “Tanks, helicopters, heavy armaments, MRAPs especially, you know, because they are very important,” said Masrour Barzani, the head of the Kurdish intelligence service.