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Author Topic: Trump's Wars  (Read 311 times)
Dos Equis
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« on: December 18, 2017, 02:02:37 PM »

Just amazing how many things have improved in just one year. 

Now that ISIS is mostly defeated, will U.S. stay in Iraq?
Jim Michaels, USA TODAY Published Dec. 18, 2017


WASHINGTON — The United States and Iraq have intensified talks to keep an ongoing American military presence in the country following the ouster of the Islamic State.

Both countries want to avoid a repeat of 2011, when American forces withdrew from Iraq after successfully weakening al-Qaeda and driving down violence in the country. Three years later, Iraq’s military collapsed in the face of an Islamic State invasion.

U.S. and Iraq have not yet determined the size and the composition of the force, which could change over time, according to two U.S. officials who did not want to be identified because they are not authorized to discuss the talks publicly.

The officials said no decisions about a long-term presence have been finalized, and the composition of a follow-on force would be determined by the Iraqi government.

“It’s kind of like what we were looking to do after 2011,” said James Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq at the time who has followed the issue closely.

It’s not clear that the United States will be able to avoid some of the political pitfalls in Baghdad that killed the agreement in 2011.

Iran holds considerable political sway in Iraq because both countries have populations that are majority Shiite Muslims surrounded by neighbors with Muslims from the Sunni sect. “The big issue is whether there will be pressure form Iranians for us to leave,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey, now an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the size of the force would likely be less than the 5,500 troops there now.

The mission of any future troop presence would be similar to what U.S. troops are doing currently: training Iraqi forces and helping with intelligence and surveillance, Jeffrey said. They are not involved in direct combat.

The presence of U.S. advisers and other support would help stabilize the military and avoid the type of catastrophe in 2014 when Islamic State, or ISIS, militants easily captured Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and other cities and towns as many of Iraq's soldiers fled.

Since then, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have broken the Islamic State’s grip on territory and forced those militants who survived to escape into the desert.

“Despite these successes our fight is not over,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last month. “Even without a physical caliphate, ISIS remains a threat to stability in the recently liberated areas, as well as in our homelands.”

ISIS may not hold territory but can create terror with bombings in Iraq and by plotting or inspiring attacks around the world.

Iraq’s government recognizes the threat and sees the need for more help from a U.S-led military coalition. Iraqi Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS earlier this month but said terrorism remains a “permanent enemy.”

U.S. officials have echoed that. “I think we need to structure ourselves to be prepared for a long-term commitment to building partner capacity in this area,” Army Lt. Gen. Paul Funk told USA TODAY in October.

In 2011, talks on keeping U.S. troops in Iraq broke down over the issue of guaranteeing legal protections for the U.S. so they would not be prosecuted for crimes related to their use of force. Iraq’s government rejected the agreement amid political opposition to a long-term U.S. presence.

This time, U.S. and Iraqi officials hope to avoid a political standoff. Instead of a formal agreement that would need the approval of Iraq's parliament, the U.S. military said it could operate under an existing memorandum of understanding between the two countries, according to one of the U.S. officials.

The memorandum has been in effect since 2014, when American advisers were deployed to Iraq to help local forces battle ISIS.

Any agreement to keep American advisers in Iraq will provide a check on expanding Iranian influence in Baghdad, Jeffrey said.

Shortly after the Islamic State invasion of Iraq, Iran’s government rushed aid and support to Shiite militias fighting against the ISIS offensive. Iran has continued to back militias and holds sway over political leaders in Baghdad.
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Dos Equis
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2017, 01:52:13 PM »

Trump Gave Mike Pence 5 Words To Tell The Troops In Afghanistan – Boy Did He Tell ‘Em
Reporter At Large

Under heavy security and extreme secrecy, Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise Thursday visit to Afghanistan.

Before he made his trip, Pence asked president Trump what message he wanted delivered to the troops. Here is what he said:

Before I left the White House yesterday, I asked Trump if he had a message for our troops here in Afghanistan. And he looked at me and said, “Tell them I love them.”
And he did.
. . .
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Dos Equis
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2017, 02:14:56 PM »


Marine Leaders Highlight Norway Unit's Role as Deterrent to Russia 21 Dec 2017
By Hope Hodge Seck

VAERNES GARRISON, Norway -- The stated goals of the Marine Corps' newest rotational force in Norway are to enhance partnerships with European allies and improve the service's ability to fight in cold weather.

But on a brief visit to the 300-member unit ahead of Christmas, the commandant and the sergeant major of the Marine Corps both described the strategic role the small unit fills -- and the fact that a peacetime mission can be preface to combat if circumstances change.

The Norwegian Home Guard base near Trondheim that houses the Marine rotational force was the first stop on Gen. Robert Neller's annual Christmas tour.

The stop was a new one for the tour. The first Norway rotation, from 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, deployed in January and was replaced by a new unit from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, in late August.

Neller emphasized to the Marines that they should remain ready to fight at all times, predicting a "big-ass fight" on the horizon.

"I hope I'm wrong, but there's a war coming," Neller said.
" ... You're in a fight here, an informational fight, a political fight, by your presence."

Neller later told the Marines that he expects the Pacific and Russia to be the service's operational points of focus as the nation looks beyond the fights in the Middle East that have stretched into the better part of two decades.

The United States' position that Russia presents a major threat was re-emphasized in the new National Security Strategy released Monday. The document discusses Russia's practice of "using information tools" to interfere with other nations' democracies and militant aggression that crosses borders.

"With its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia demonstrates its willingness to violate the sovereignty of states in the region," the strategy states.

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green put the Marines' role starkly.

"Just remember why you're here," he said. "They're watching. Just like you watch them, they watch you. We've got 300 Marines up here; we could go from 300 to 3,000 overnight. We could raise the bar."

The rotational force itself is much more circumspect about its role in the region. On a visit to the unit in May, found troops assigned to the unit had even been instructed not to use the word "Russia" in interviews with the media.

In large part, this is due to regional sensitivities.

The rotational unit is in Norway at the invitation of the Norwegian government, which maintains an economic relationship with Russia and shares a 120-mile border on its northeastern edge with the country.

While Norwegian feedback on the Marines' presence has been generally positive -- then-Norwegian Defense Minister Ina Eriksen Søreide announced in June that the rotation had been extended for a year, until 2018 -- others have cited misgivings.

In October, Norway opposition leaders asked Prime Minister Erna Solberg to explain exactly what the American troops are doing in the country.

Russian officials, for their part, have been outspoken in opposing the presence of Marines in Norway and warning of diplomatic repercussions.

Though Green did not name Russia, he referred to its displeasure at the Marines' presence nearby.

"They don't like the fact that we oppose them, and we like the fact that they don't like the fact that we oppose them," Green said. "Three hundred of us, surrounded by them, we've got them right where we wanted, right? We've done this before."
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2017, 08:28:47 PM »

What an indictment of President Obama.  Trump put Mad Dog in charge and got out of the way. 

ISIS has lost 98 percent of its territory -- mostly since Trump took office, officials say

By Lucas Tomlinson   | Fox News

The U.S. military says ISIS has lost 98 percent of the territory it once held, half of those losses coming since President Trump took office; Lucas Tomlinson reports from the Pentagon.

ISIS has lost 98 percent of the territory it once held -- with half of that terror group's so-called "caliphate" having been recaptured since President Trump took office less than a year ago, U.S. military officials said Tuesday.

The massive gains come after years of "onerous" rules, when critics say the Obama administration “micromanaged” the war and shunned a more intensive air strategy that could have ended the conflict much sooner.

“The rules of engagement under the Obama administration were onerous. I mean what are we doing having individual target determination being conducted in the White House, which in some cases adds weeks and weeks,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence. “The limitations that were put on actually resulted in greater civilian casualties.”

But the senior director for counterterrorism in former President Barack Obama’s National Security Council pushed back on any criticism the former president didn’t do enough to defeat ISIS.

“This was a top priority from the early days of ISIS gaining the type of territorial safe haven in particular, there was recognition that safe havens for terrorist groups can mean terrorist plots that extend — not just into the region — but to Europe and conceivably into the United States,” said Joshua Geltzer, author of “US Counter-Terrorism Strategy and al-Qaeda: Signalling and the Terrorist World-View,” now a visiting professor at Georgetown Law School.

The latest American intelligence assessment says fewer than 1,000 ISIS fighters now remain in Iraq and Syria, down from a peak of nearly 45,000 just two years ago. U.S. officials credit nearly 30,000 U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and regional partners on the ground for killing more than 70,000 jihadists. Meanwhile, only a few thousand have returned home.

The remaining ISIS strongholds are concentrated in a small area along the border of Syria and Iraq. ISIS, at one point, controlled an area the size of Ohio.

While ISIS has been largely defeated, it continues to call on followers around the world to conduct terror attacks during the holidays with a new message sprouting up on Tuesday, and a suicide attack in Kabul on Christmas with ISIS claiming responsibility. It’s part of the terror group’s effort to expand influence into Africa and Afghanistan. The U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition warned late last week not to expect a complete defeat anytime soon.

“ISIS became a brand, and a lot of pre-existing terrorist groups — you’ve seen this in the Sinai, for example — start to raise the flag of ISIS, mainly to recruit foreign fighters and other things,” said Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS at the U.S. Department of State, in a press briefing Thursday with reporters at the State Department.

Deptula thinks the ISIS fight would have ended much sooner if then-President Obama had given his military commander in the field more authority. He compared President Obama’s actions to President Lyndon B. Johnson during the Vietnam War.

“Obama micromanaged the war,” Deptula said. “We could have accomplished our objectives through the use of overwhelming air power in three months not in three years.”

Deptula said ISIS-controlled oil supplies weren’t targeted for 15 months beginning in 2014, giving the terror group $15 million in much needed revenue to plot attacks and enslave millions of innocents.

In addition to ISIS, an old nemesis has taken root in Syria, and which might take on a bigger priority for the Trump administration next year, according to Geltzer.

“A lot of folks when they think about Al Qaeda probably still think of its center of gravity as being on that Afghanistan-Pakistan border,” he said. “But I would think of the center of gravity for Al Qaeda really having shifted to Syria at this point.”
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2017, 06:11:43 AM »

Actually letting the military do their job is an amazing thing.
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