Best Defense

Time for another Iraq Study Group?

According to Lt. Gen. Neller, the incoming Commandant of the Marine Corps, ISIS is neither winning nor losing, yet we are “doing what we need to do” in Iraq.

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By Doug Jackson
Best Defense guest correspondent

According to Lt. Gen. Neller, the incoming Commandant of the Marine Corps, ISIS is neither winning nor losing, yet we are “doing what we need to do” in Iraq. I doubt many would agree with that last statement.

In the past five years since our withdrawal, the U.S. response to the ensuing nightmare could be characterized as disengaged and apathetic at best. It is time to reexamine the plans we have made and reconsider the assumptions we have held, too high a price has already been paid to continue making half-hearted efforts in the region. The good news, there is no shortage of qualified individuals who could contribute to a meaningful analysis of the current situation, to include both soldiers and journalists alike who have devoted entire seasons of their life to Iraq.

As we move forward, plans for the future must be tempered by reverence for the past. For example, we should consider that former Baathists, Shia militias, ISIS, and other parties all have a say in whether the fight has been won or not.

Amidst the predictably bold rhetoric from candidates in the upcoming presidential race, it will be easy to lose sight of what has been and or what should be. Collectively, America needs a moment of level headed introspection, to simply ask ourselves “what do we do now?” We must summon the courage to dissect our previous efforts and begin by asking very rudimentary questions: What do the people of Iraq want? What will the region tolerate? What is best for America’s long term security? What is the strength of the U.S. military? Have we made plans to bolster our diplomatic efforts?

Even with the world’s most capable military, a sustainable victory in Iraq has yet to be realized. What does Mission Accomplished look like in 2016 and beyond? Certainly it does not include a continuation of our present course. A narrow window may have already faded, the American gov. must quickly gather a council of the knowing to lead us into the unknown

Doug Jackson, Cpl., USMC 2006-2010, Infantry, OIF 2007 Al Anbar

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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. Twitter: @tomricks1

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