On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order, an official statement about how the agencies he oversees are to use their resources, in which calls for a better military plan to defeat Islamic State. This is likely to force the Pentagon to rethink their strategies for the use of firepower in the fight against the terrorist organization.
According to REUTERS reports, anonymous U.S. officials have doubted the country’s military will actually change their key strategy developed during the Obama administration: allowing local forces to do the fighting and dying in Iraq and Syria.
As Trump signed the Order in the Oval Office, he remarked: “It is going to be very successful”. A copy of the executive order was not immediately available and was expected to be released later on. In a briefing later on in the day with reporters, a senior official in the new administration said the order would ask the joint chiefs of staff to draw up a plan in 30 days with the hopes of defeating Islamic State. This would fulfill one of President Trump’s campaign promises.
During his election campaign, Trump highlighted the fight against Islamic State and “radical Islamic extremists” as a key theme. The organisation claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on American soil including the 2015 San Bernardino attack. He has avoided talking about any specific military plans to combat the group.
Any shifts by the U.S. Military could weaken American relations with countries in the Middle East, which were strained by former President Barack Obama’s effort throughout his term-of-office to limit U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has been an advocate for a more forceful approach to the fight against IS. How he will decide to pursue this still remains to be seen.
Although officials have said that if the United States took a more forceful approach by deploying their own troops on the ground, the group would be defeated much quicker than relying on local fighters on the battlefield, many say that although the States would be victorious, there would be a long lasting anti-American sentiment as an offensive would likely come at the expense of more U.S. lives lost while doing little to actually creating a solution to conflicts fueled by religious, ethnic and political divides.
A retired U.S. forces lieutenant general, said it would be a major escalation if President Trump did decide to to put U.S. troops in a combat situation on the ground in Iraq and Syria. “We’ve been down that road, and I don’t think the American people are excited about that idea.” said David Barno.
Experts say the Pentagon may increase the number of attack helicopters and air strikes, as well as bringing in more artillery. The military may also seek more authority to make battle decisions.