Small Wars Journal

Pentagon’s Top Brass Explores Islamic Ideology’s Ties to Terror

Pentagon’s Top Brass Explores Islamic Ideology’s Ties to Terror by Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times

U.S. Special Operations Command has privately pressed the staff of the nation’s highest-ranking military officer to include in his upcoming National Military Strategy a discussion of the Sunni Muslim ideology underpinning the brutality of the Islamic State group and al Qaeda.

Thus, behind the scenes, the Pentagon’s top brass have entered a debate coursing through the presidential campaign: how to define an enemy the U.S. military has been fighting for 15 years.

The National Military Strategy, authored by the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, is one of the most important guidances issued to global combatant commanders. It prioritizes threats to the nation and how to blunt them.

The 2015 public version does not mention Islamic ideology. It lists terrorists under the ambiguous category of “violent extremist organizations” and singles out al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford took the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff two months later and is now preparing his first National Military Strategy…

Read on.



Mon, 09/26/2016 - 4:25pm

That Islamic terrorism is a relatively new phenomenon in the modern era suggests that the issue may not be the doctrines, after all.

In this following peer-reviewed article, I have explored this angle:…

A short format of this article is available here:…

A key result of this study is that we can largely delink violence committed in the name of Islam from its doctrines, and instead, associate it with the influence of religious leaders. Furthermore, this study establishes that religious leaders’ influence in a community is correlated with the popularity of sharia as the law of the land. So, whenever or wherever sharia is popular, religious leaders who espouse violence are primed to influence the community.

Table 2 in the peer-reviewed article correlates sharia’s popularity with that of religious leaders’ and in turn, with violent radicalism.

Dave Maxwell

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 12:04pm

I cannot believe that after all these years we are still arguing about this. And in my opinion those on both sides of the issue are wrong.

Watering down what we call the enemy is in no way going to help us win over the moderate Islamic community and calling the enemy Salafi Jihadis is in no way going to help us defeat them. I am sure both AQ and ISIS are enjoying watching us waste time over what to call them because it detracts from our ability to develop the strategies and campaign plans to defeat them. It makes me want to paraphrase CPT Willard in Apocalypse Now, "every minute I stay in this room (and argue over what to call the enemy), I get weaker, and every minute Charlie (or AQ/ISIS) squats in the bush, he gets stronger."

We should not be afraid to call the enemy who he is but we should also be under no illusion that calling him who he is is going to do anything more than make us feel good about calling him that. We need to let children argue about children's things and instead we need to get on with business and deal with the enemy as he really is and not as we would wish him to be. Maybe a Christian quote would be appropriate here: " When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” It is time for us to man-up (and woman-up) and put away this childish discussion and develop the strategy and campaign plans to protect our interests and national security.

But on a positive note I am glad we are going to have a classified national military strategy.