Fallacies That Must Be Exposed: Reframing Counter ISIL Strategy

  • Lieutenant Colonel Kristofer W. Gifford

The current strategy against ISIL is best described as containment plus with a lead from behind approach. There is a gap between the rhetoric and reality of the proposed endstate to defeat ISIL. The strategy employs ill suited proxy forces that are committing atrocities against the people they liberate. The strategy also attempts to win slowly and avoid stability operations. Though an effective degrade strategy, it cannot achieve the desired end state of destroying ISIL because of a weak Iraqi Security Force and limited U.S. means and resources. Current strategy also fails to address the root causes of the conflict, offer lasting political solutions, or win the information war. To correct these deficiencies, U.S. leaders should reframe the problem set and better align ends, ways, and means with the following strategic adjustments. Utterly defeat ISIL using rapid, decisive, kinetic and non-kinetic means. The Coalition must embrace a U.N. led Arab ground force, strike at ISIL’s ability to govern, and attack ISIL’s ideology more aggressively. To win the peace a new political order should be established, granting semi-autonomy to Sunnis and Kurds, and stabilized by the U.N. led Arab forces. It is also crucial to achieve similar objectives in Syria through diplomacy with Russia and Iran, similar to the P5+1 negotiations.