Small Wars Journal

‘We Have To End It’: Trump Takes Over Islamic State Fight, Vowing To Finish It

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 2:42pm

‘We Have To End It’: Trump Takes Over Islamic State Fight, Vowing To Finish It by Missy Ryan, Washington Post

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, the Islamic State is on the defensive in three countries and has been all but wiped out in another. Two and a half years after the extremists rolled across northern Iraq, Pentagon and diplomatic officials say a military victory, at least in their major strongholds, is within sight.

But tens of thousands of fighters remain, and the militants are showing signs of reinventing themselves as a dispersed terrorist movement — a threat that the incoming commander in chief says has been given too much time to grow.

“This should have been over with quickly,” Trump told CNN last year. “We’re not fighting strongly enough. We have to end it.”

“I think they’ll find there’s not a lot of low-hanging fruit, by which I mean obvious and low-cost things to do that will noticeably advance progress without negative or unintended consequences,” said Philip H. Gordon, who served as President Obama’s coordinator for Middle East issues when the Islamic State captured the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014, an event that stunned U.S. officials and upended the president’s national security plans.

Obama administration officials credit their slow-and-steady strategy, which has centered on local combat power backed by U.S. air support, for the gradual recapture of much of the territory held by militants across Iraq and Syria over the past two years…

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