Pentagon has radically altered its ground strategy against ISIS. In order to intensify pressure on the terrorist group, American troops will now aggressively assist local forces to reclaim their land.
At the behest of the Obama administration, which strongly feels that the battle against ISIS or Islamic State isn’t bearing results, the strategy against the militant faction has undergone significant revisions. The new strategy was unveiled by Defense Secretary Ash Carter at a Senate Armed Services Committee. Speaking about the same, he said the following.
“The campaign against ISIS is evolving as the U.S. military seeks to reinforce ground efforts. The changes we’re pursuing can be described by what I call the ‘three R’s’ – Raqqa, Ramadi and Raids.”
Marine Corp Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, corroborated Carter’s statements adding he would recommend putting U.S. forces with Iraqi troops to fight Islamic State if it improved the chances of defeating the militants, reported MSN.
Explaining the three Rs, Carter said the first R or Raqqa, meant retaking Raqqa, Syria, which has become an unofficial capital of ISIS. During this stage, American troops will assist various Syrian rebel and Kurdish groups. American forces will lend their expertise and train the forces to combat the militants and under the cover of airstrikes, these local forces will attempt to reclaim Raqqa, reported The Hill.
Under the revised ground strategy, Pentagon plans to train as well as arm about 15,000 local forces over the span of three years. The Obama administration is also considering to send a convoy of U.S. advisers to Syria to coordinate action against the ISIS, reported The Washington Post.
Similar to the first R, the second R means reclaiming Ramadi, Iraq. Multiple forces, including Iraqi Security Forces, Shiite militias, and Sunni tribesmen have been trying to reclaim their city; since it was overrun by ISIS in May, but haven’t managed have any impact. American forces and the arsenal they pack could help launch a massive counteroffensive to force ISIS to abandon the city of Ramadi.
Interestingly, the Pentagon’s revised ground strategy has realized the pitfalls of the earlier plans that involved training new forces. The new strategy will largely rely on local forces that are already active in the region and are aware of the ground realities, terrain and fighting techniques adopted by ISIS, continued Carter.
“While the old approach was to train and equip completely new forces outside of Syria before sending them into the fight, the new approach is to work with vetted leaders of groups that are already fighting ISIL, and provide equipment and some training to them and support their operations with airpower.”
Essentially, the revised strategy may train any group that is fighting the ISIS, including Sunni tribes that have been involved in anti-ISIS operations, but lack basic training and carry ancient weapons with dwindling supply of ammunitions. Pentagon may force the Baghdad administration to equip the tribes with weapons, reported ABC News.
The last R stands for raids, which will be conducted against ISIS. Highly directed special operations that target specific targets will be carried out by American troops in association with local forces. The recently conducted predawn mission could be an excellent example.
There are many countries that have been increasingly launching airstrikes against ISIS. American drones have proven their efficacy in taking out remote and inaccessible targets in the past. Such strikes could increase and will be aimed at ISIS infrastructure. Reports indicate ISIS makes about $50 million a day, through sale of oil. Wiping out such facilities would certainly limit the finances of ISIS, feels Pentagon.
[Photo by John Moore / Getty Images]