President Donald Trump reportedly rejected a plan to combat ISIS presented to him by the US military because it was too similar to former President Barack Obama’s policy. The White House has asked officials to come up with new proposals to show that the Trump administration is different from its predecessor.
According to unnamed sources mentioned in an article by the Independent, military leaders are reluctant to change the plan drafted during the time of President Obama in favor of a new plan by the Trump administration. The original plans emphasized the use of air strikes against Islamic State fighters and kept the direct involvement by US personnel at a minimum.
During the campaign, then-candidate Trump heavily criticized the incumbent president for his apparent failures in Iraq. He mainly focused on the decision to leave the Middle Eastern country prematurely, thereby leaving a power vacuum to be taken advantage of by terrorist groups.
The terror group is currently being driven out of its stronghold of Mosul in Northern Iraq by a coalition of Kurdish and Iraqi government forces. The United States and Russia are also working to combat the group by providing air support to forces on the ground.
Since the beginning of President Donald Trump’s term, 50 ISIS leaders have been killed. However, this is still below the 80 confirmed killed during the last six months of President Obama.
Despite his apparent disdain for his predecessor’s policies to fight the group, Trump also appears to favor using air strikes on Islamic State. This is evident with the increasing number of strikes carried out by the US Air Force which is now approaching 800 a month, compared to the 440 air strikes in the latter half of 2016.
So far, the Trump administration has altered very little, if any, of the original plan drafted by the past administration. However, the White House insists it will publish a new and comprehensive plan to combat the group.
The president stated during the campaign trail that had an “absolute plan to defeat ISIS.” However, since being elected the commander-in-chief has been reluctant to share or offer hints of his strategies, saying “I don’t want the enemy to know what I’m doing.”
Whatever plan the administration has up its sleeve, it might be needed very soon. With the push to liberate Mosul almost nearing completion, the combined Kurdish and Iraqi forces are now eyeing the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.
The Guardian reports that US-backed forces surrounding Raqqa expect that the fight to retake the political capital of the terror group could take three months. Stamping the group out in Syria and Iraq could take longer still.
The situation in the Syrian city is now becoming tense, with fighters using an eighth-century wall as a buffer to keep out the combined Kurdish and Arab forces. The fate of over 60,000 civilians still trapped in Raqqa is now becoming desperate.
Any move to recapture the city could be disastrous, with the terror group infamous for using civilians as human shields and suicide bombers. Street fighting could also prove dangerous to the invading forces, with houses and alleyways providing ample locations for setting booby traps and improvised explosive devices or IEDs.
With the caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi now presumed dead, the entire organization is beginning to crumble from repeated air strikes and advances of the Arab-Kurdish coalition.
If President Donald Trump indeed has a plan to combat ISIS, his administration must put it to work as soon as possible. With the final battle to eradicate the terror group looming, any “absolute plan” to the group must be put in motion to minimize military casualties and save civilian lives.
[Featured Image by Czarek Sokolowski/AP Images]