How to Defeat ISIS

U.S. officials beginning with Obama have repeatedly stressed that the U.S. mission is not to contain ISIS but to “defeat” and “destroy” it. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has twice stated that we are “at war” with ISIS. And given the group’s potential for mayhem, this policy is wise. Yet 18 months after the first U.S. troops were ordered to Iraq to counter ISIS, the group has neither been defeated nor, according recently to Carter and JCS Chairman Joseph Dunford, even contained.

More remarkable is that the United States arguably has the means to destroy the group through its current policy of air support, train-and-equip programs to build up local allies, and special forces strikes—but only if they are augmented with at least some U.S. ground forces. Yet the administration has dug in on its refusal to send ground troops to the conflict, even as it begrudgingly taps other types of military power, including special forces advisors closer to the front, high-end special forces raiding teams, Apache attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships aimed at the ISIS oil truck fleet.

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