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Military Connection: What the Fall of Ramadi Shows

RamadiBy Debbie Gregory.

The White House has officially acknowledged the fall of the city of Ramadi to the Islamic State. A statement from the Obama administration calls the loss of Iraq’s Anbar province capital a “setback.” The Pentagon concurred with the White House’s summation, as both bodies maintain that the current strategies being used against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL), will ultimately bring about the destruction of the terrorist group. Both the White House and the Pentagon urged patience to those who wanted a faster resolution to the Islamic State problem.

“Setbacks are regrettable but not uncommon in warfare,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. “Much effort will now be required to reclaim the city.”

While those currently in power in Washington are campaigning to stay the course with our strategies in Iraq, there are others, including some who previously held positions of authority in the capital, who believe we should alter our tactics against the Islamic State. Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates has said on national television that, “We don’t really have a strategy at all. We’re basically playing this day by day.”

Gates was speaking of the administration’s attempts to drive a wedge between Iraq’s Sunni tribes and the Islamic State. The former defense secretary has warned that if the situation keeps unfolding the way it currently is, we could see Iraq go down the same path as Yugoslavia.

“Right now, it looks like we’re going to see a lot of trouble in the Middle East for a long time,” Gates said.

The fall of Ramadi has caused suffering for the city’s residents, as well as a delay in any push to retake Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq. Mosul has been  an Islamic State stronghold since June, 2014. The loss of the city revealed that U.S. airstrikes, while effective, are not decisive. It also revealed further weaknesses in the already weak Iraqi Army. The U.S. had previously hoped that Iraqi government forces would have been ready to march on Mosul by April or May, but those hopes are now lost.

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Military Connection: What the Fall of Ramadi Shows: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Air Strikes Update: By Debbie Gregory

Airstrike updateWith the American air support, Iraq security forces and Kurdish forces have been able to stop the sweeping advances of Islamic State expansion, and retake the Mosul Dam. The U.S. military has been hammering ISIL forces with air strikes.

Manned U.S. aircraft and drones have wreaked havoc on the insurgents. Included in the air strikes are Navy Carrier Air Wing 8’s F/A 18s, EA-6B Prowlers, and E-2C Hawkeyes from the American aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77).

The carrier, her crew and the air wing embarked onboard were tasked to the Northern Arabian Gulf in support of air strikes on ISIL forces for as long as necessary.

There have been no reported U.S. casualties from the air strikes. American pilots and unmanned aircraft have not met with any surface-to-air resistance, only small arms fire. Meanwhile, Islamic State insurgents have suffered great losses.

The initial success of the airstrikes and the enormity of ISIL’s expansion has left Washington contemplating carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State units in Syria. While Iraq and Syria claim to maintain their sovereign borders, the actuality is that the Islamic state has claimed territory from both countries. While ISIL still occupies the territories in both countries that it currently controls, those borders are non-existent.

Many believe that the Islamic State cannot be defeated unless the force is destroyed both in Iraq and in Syria. There is also the belief  that Iraq and Kurdish forces may not be able to achieve this task without significantly more aide and involvement from the U.S. and its allies.

So far, Washington has not ordered, authorized or asked for anything beyond the airstrikes and aid that they are currently providing.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Air Strikes Update: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Expanding Actions Against ISIL: By Debbie Gregory

Expanding against ISThe White House is contemplating pursuing authorization from Congress to carry out military action against the Islamic State under a variation of a counter­terrorism strategy announced last year.

Permission from Congress could provide domestic legal justification for the unlimited use of force against Islamic State insurgents across Iraq and Syria. The last time that Congress formally mandated such action was against Saddam Hussein and Iraq in 2002.

This would be one of several options currently being discussed as the Obama administration decides how to defeat the Islamic State, which controls a wide swath of territory in both Iraq and Syria.

U.S. military alternatives include temporary authority under the War Powers Resolution, which grants the president constitutional authority for emergency action to protect U.S. citizens. The administration is also in discussion with Congress concerning a more unrestricted authorization to openly combat the Islamic State.

The airstrikes in Iraq ordered by President Obama under the War Powers Resolution are only good for 60 days, and will expire in early October, unless further action is approved by Congress.

It is unclear whether or not Congress will approve further military actions after October, and if they do, to what capacity. It is also not clear if Congress would approve air strikes or other military actions into Syria.

The recent beheading of American journalist James Foley by members of the Islamic State has many Americans, especially Veterans, up in arms. Americans, outraged at Foley’s execution, echo the words of Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin Rhodes:

“If you come after Americans, we are going to come after you. We’re not going to be restricted by borders,” Rhodes stated on August 22nd.

Foley was kidnapped and held by a guerrilla group that later joined up with the Islamic State in territory that ISIL had seized from Syria.

The killing of Foley might sway some lawmakers to vote in favor of immediate use of airstrikes and other military actions in Syria, if necessary to protect U.S. citizens.

Contingency plans for airstrikes in Syria have been prepared for presidential review, in case the president should ask for them. The intelligence community has also generated a list of high-value targets among individual Islamic State leaders, as it did with al-Qaeda. So far, the president has not formally requested expanded military action.

The president has publicly ruled out sending U.S. ground forces­ into Iraq or Syria, and has resisted any direct U.S. military action in Syria.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Expanding Actions Against ISIL:  By Debbie Gregory