Military leaders dubious of bigger war against ISIL
Military officials worry that leaders in Washington haven't absorbed the lessons of America's last big wars.By Bryan Bender, Politico.com
Updated 11/18/15 12:30 AM EST
U.S. military leaders are skeptical about calls for escalating the war against the Islamic State, saying they have watched too many of their troops’ hard-won victories slip away amid civilian inattention in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Even as U.S. and allied aircraft step up their bombing campaign against the terrorist group after Friday’s attacks in Paris, senior military officials privately express worries that political leaders in Washington and foreign capitals still haven’t absorbed the lessons of America’s last two big wars. In both cases, the military defeated the Taliban, Saddam Hussein’s regime and the Iraqi insurgents, but civilian leadership failed to do the political, economic and diplomatic heavy-lifting needed to sustain those wins.
The same thing could happen again in the fight against ISIL, the military officials say, unless far more is done to train and arm local allies, beef up the State Department's capacity to assist foreign allies to improve governing structures, counter the terrorist group's message in mosques and in social media and employ much more international leverage to end the Syrian civil war. Otherwise, the growing pressure to strike back hard against ISIL will mean that guns and bombs once again get far more attention and resources than the other levers of power that would ultimately prove more consequential.
The military officials say these concerns are behind President Barack Obama’s refusal to launch a more expansive military operation that includes American ground troops against the terrorists.