Best Defense

Strategic experts at Future of War meeting: ISIS is kicking our ass

One of the gloomiest sessions at the New America/ASU conference on the future of war was an examination of the rise of ISIS.

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One of the gloomiest sessions at the New America/ASU conference on the future of war was an examination of the rise of ISIS.

“The U.S. is aligned with the very regimes who helped create ISIS,” warned Emma Sky, a sometime Best Defense contributor who advised the U.S. military in Iraq and now teaches at Yale. She warned that ISIS is not so much the problem as the symptom of larger problems. And if those larger problems are not addressed, you simply will see other forms of ISIS emerge.

In a later panel, retired Air Force Special Operations Col. Ioannis Koskinas said that the U.S. approach to ISIS so far has been, “Quite frankly, just poor.” He recommended that rather than go with sending conventional forces to Iraq that the United States form a Counterterror Task Force for ISIL in Syria and Iraq, along with Special Forces trainers for working with local forces.

In an earlier panel, David Kilcullen observed that over the last 12 years, our adversaries have had the opportunity to study the U.S. military on the ground in Iraq. As a result, he said, “they’ve actually learned a lot from watching what we got wrong.”

Wikimedia Commons/Yascine

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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