21
Jan

There’s a scary disconnect between the somber warnings you hear privately from military leaders about the war against the Islamic State and the glib debating points coming from Republican and Democratic politicians.

The politicians fulminate about defeating the terrorists, but they don’t talk much about the costs or sacrifices that will be required. The generals and admirals, who have been at war for 15 years, know that success can’t be bought cheaply. Defeating this enemy will require a much larger and longer commitment by the United States than any leading politician seems willing to acknowledge.

My visit here last week to the headquarters of Central Command, which oversees all U.S. military activities in the Middle East, came as part of a conference organized by the Center for Naval Analyses, which provides research to the Navy and other services. The ground rules prevent me from identifying speakers by name, but I can offer a summary of what I heard. It’s not reassuring.

Military leaders know that they are fighting a ruthless adversary that has adjusted and adapted its tactics as the United States and its partners have joined the fight over the past 18 months. The jihadists have lost about 25 percent of the territory they held in mid-2014, but they have devised innovative methods to compensate for their weakness.

Some examples illustrate the agility of Islamic State commanders: They have used tunnels and other concealment tactics to hide their movements; they have developed super-size car bombs, packing explosives in bulldozers and other heavy equipment and sending them in waves against targets; they have deployed small drones for reconnaissance and may be preparing armed drones; they have used chemical weapons, such as chlorine and mustard gas, on the battlefield and may expand use of such unconventional weapons. Read more…

 

Published on Jan. 18 by David Ignatius in https://www.washingtonpost.com

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