Donald Trump wants “a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS.” But Kimberly Kagan, a leading advocate of the troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan, warns that, this time round, “we need to recognize there are limits on how fast we can accelerate.”
Part of the reason is tactical, Kagan told the DefenseOne Summit yesterday afternoon: “We actually have to respect the fact that the urban fight is a hard fight,” she said. Part of the reason lies beyond Mosul. “There is still an ISIS threat elsewhere in Iraq,” Kagan said, not to mention in Syria, where the drive on the Islamic State capital of Raqqa is not progressing as quickly as the move on Mosul. Part of the reason is regional. “Our objectives are rather narrowly focused on ISIS,” Kagan said, but local allies and enemies from the peshmerga to Turks to the Iranians actually have to live in the Middle East after the Islamic State is gone, and they’re already positioning themselves for the day after Daesh. Finally, part of the reason is global. ISIS has a global strategy, refocusing on supporters in Europe, North Africa, South Asia, and online even as its so-called caliphate collapses, Kagan said: We need a global strategy to counter theirs.