Senators: Obama Counter-IS Strategy Failing

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined by the committee's ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., right, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, about Counter-ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) Strategy. Defense Secretary Ash Carter defends President Barack Obama's strategy to defeat Islamic State group militants amid blistering criticism from Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined by the committee’s ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., right, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, about Counter-ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) Strategy. Defense Secretary Ash Carter defends President Barack Obama’s strategy to defeat Islamic State group militants amid blistering criticism from Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, July 8, 2015:

President Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State terror group came under harsh criticism from senators on Tuesday who said the United States is losing the war by not doing more to attack the group.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said the president was guilty of “self-delusion” in claiming progress is being made against the ultra-violent al Qaeda offshoot, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

During a committee hearing with Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, McCain said 5,000 allied air strikes on IS targets have so far done little to stop IS advances.

“Since U.S. and coalition airstrikes began last year, ISIL has continued to enjoy battlefield successes, including taking Ramadi and other key terrain in Iraq, holding over half the territory in Syria and controlling every border post between Iraq and Syria,” McCain said.

“Our means and our current level of effort are not aligned with our ends,” he said. “That suggests we are not winning, and when you’re not winning in war, you are losing.”

Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, said restoring Iraqi sovereignty over IS-held territory in Iraq will take at least three years, and defeating the terror group could take up to 20 years.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) also said the president’s strategy against IS is failing.

“And I am deeply disappointed,” Sessions told Carter. “I don’t see the confidence in your testimony or Gen. Dempsey’s testimony. I believe we’re actively carrying out a strategy that the president has, and I don’t believe it has sufficient respect for the use of military force necessary to be successful.”

Additionally, Republican senators criticized the Pentagon leaders for adopting a counter-IS strategy that excludes a concerted military effort to oust Syria’s Bashir Assad from power.

McCain said the failure to deal with the Syrian civil war, where Iran, pro-Iran Hezbollah forces, and Russia are supporting Assad, is the greatest accelerant for Islamic State gains in both gaining recruits and on the battlefield.

“None of our efforts against ISIL in Iraq can succeed while the conflict in Syria continues, and with it, the conditions for ISIL’s continued growth, recruitment, and radicalization of Muslims around the world,” McCain said.

A U.S.-backed program to train Syrian rebels has been restricted to training fighters solely to battle IS militants and not the Assad regime. Fewer than 100 fighters have been trained so far, the Senate testimony disclosed.

The administration launched a Syrian rebel training program just three months ago that plans to produce a force of 7,000 volunteer anti-IS rebels.

“As of July 3rd, we are currently training about 60 fighters,” Carter, the defense secretary, said. “This number is much smaller than we’d hoped for at this point.”

The Pentagon currently has some 3,500 troops involved in training Iraqi forces and has conducted over 5,000 airstrikes on IS targets in Iraq and Syria.

McCain, however, said a large number of the aircraft sorties returned to their bases without dropping bombs because of a lack of ground spotters.

Dempsey testified that IS terrorism is one of several global threats that include Russian revanchism in Eastern Europe, Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, Iranian terrorist activities in the Middle East, and new technical advancements by North Korea, as well as a growing cyber threat.

“While our potential adversaries grow stronger, many of our allies are becoming increasingly dependent on the United States and on our assistance, and some of our comparative military advantages have begun to erode,” Dempsey said.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said the Islamic State is expanding its operations to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“There have been a series of spectacular terrorist attacks in the Sinai peninsula,” he said. “The Islamic State takes credit for those attacks. We still have the multinational force and observers in the Sinai peninsula, almost 1,800 soldiers, 1,200 of which are American personnel.”

Dempsey said the Joint Staff conducted a vulnerability assessment of the Sinai and added some new weapons and communications to U.S. and Egyptian forces there.

“I’m confident that [American forces] are adequately protected today, but I fully expect that threat to increase,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey, under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) agreed that currently more terrorist organizations are operating in more safe havens, and with more weapons and people capable of striking U.S. homeland than at any time since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The four-star general also said IS is expanding to other countries outside Syria and Iraq.

Graham said IS is “recruiting more foreign fighters than we’re training [for the] Free Syrian Army.”

“The math doesn’t work. This is never going to result in Assad or ISIL being degraded or destroyed. The only way I see ISIL to be degraded or destroyed is for a ground force, regional in nature, to go into Syria,” Graham said.

The defense secretary said the U.S. objective in Syria is to force Assad to step down through political and not military means.

Carter and Dempsey said in their testimony that the U.S. ground forces in the region are limited to being used as trainers for Iraqi forces.

Four divisions of U.S.-trained Iraqi military forces deserted during the IS incursion from Syria into Iraq last year, providing both military equipment and a propaganda edge for the group.

“The lack of coherent strategy has resulted in the spread of ISIL around the world to Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, and even to Afghanistan,” McCain said.

“We have seen this movie before, and if we make the same mistakes, we should expect similarly tragic results,” he said. “I do not want to attend another hearing like this with your successors, trying to figure out a strategy to clean up after avoidable mistakes.”

Under questioning from Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) Carter said IS exercises “mixed” command and control over affiliate terror groups and individual jihadists in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.

“ISIL is more resilient because it is more decentralized and informal in that sense,” Carter said.

Carter and Dempsey met Monday with Obama at the Pentagon to discuss the administration’s counter-IS strategy that includes nine “lines of effort.”

They include military, diplomatic, and intelligence programs, along with sanctions and efforts to counter IS propaganda and recruitment.

Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a former senior CIA counterterrorism leader, said in an interview that the administration’s Syrian training program is a waste of time.

Clarridge said the Pentagon should fund and organize a regional military force of Egyptians, Saudis, Jordanians, and Persian Gulf militaries based on the Sunni Arab National Front for the Salvation of Iraq, also known as the Awakening Movement, that was developed in Iraq from 2008 to bring stability to the country.

“Then you’d have a real force that could whack ISIS to the ground,” he said.

Additionally, Clarridge said the Pentagon needs to stop sending all arms and aid through Baghdad and should follow Germany’s lead in sending weaponry directly to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

Clarridge also said that the Obama administration is doing nothing to counter IS propaganda and recruitment efforts, he said.

“Everyone says you can’t win this war militarily. But where is the psychological warfare effort? I have people monitoring this day in, day out, and there is none, zero,” Clarridge said, adding that the current efforts is limited to a few people at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“There are people standing by with large capabilities, Muslims, ready to put their capabilities to work, if someone would organize it,” Clarridge said.

Additionally, no radio broadcasting is being carried out in Iraq and Syria, he said.

Carter said the key Iraqi city of Ramadi that was overrun by IS forces on May 17 needs to be retaken but not until Iraqi forces are better prepared for the counter offensive.

“This will be a test of the competence of the Iraqi security forces, and it’s a test that they must pass,” Carter said. “Our and the coalition’s involvement is to try to train and equip and support them to be successful.”

Dempsey said a counter attack against Ramadi was called off about a month ago because Iraqi troops were not ready.

According to a detailed situation report from Iraq by the contractor Falcon Group, coalition forces conducted 11 airstrikes on July 6, near Sinjar, the Makhmour district, Kirkuk province, Baiji, Haditha, Ramadi, and Fallujah. The strikes hit an IS tactical unit and destroyed a heavy machine gun and a building.

Reports from the region indicated that IS forces near Baiji, where a major oil refinery is located, carried out a major counter offensive against Iraqi forces, the Falcon Group said.

“IS elements also attacked in the oil refinery and now control 60 percent of the refinery,” the report said.

The Iraqi government denied the reports and said most of the refinery remains under Iraqi security forces’ control.

***

Also see:

No, the Benghazi Questions Aren’t All Answered

pic_giant_010614_SM_Down-the-Times-Benghazi-Rabbit-Hole_0By Jim Geraghty:

NBC News’s Chuck Todd, speaking on MSNBC Tuesday morning, contended that the newly formed House select committee investigating Benghazi was likely to rehash familiar arguments and miss broader issues worth discussing:

It certainly looks more partisan than it looks like a serious inquiry. They’ve done a ton of these inquiries already, the House has. There’s been a Senate Intelligence investigation. Forget just the State Department. I think you could argue that yes, Congress should have done what it did, which is go through some of these committees. But as for the need for the select committee — you know, I’ll hear from Republicans that say, ‘But there are unanswered questions!’ Well, no, all the questions have been answered. There’s just some people that don’t like the answers, that wish the answers were somehow more conspiratorial, I guess.

Their focus seems to be off. Have a conversation about the policy. Have a debate, an investigation into whether the policy is working; to whether the response to the Arab Spring, whether we did the right thing with the light footprint in Libya. But to sit here and investigate talking points seems to be totally missing the larger point here. It’s like investigating who cut down one tree in a forest that’s been burned down.”

Todd is half-right that there are broader issues worth examining. But there is good reason for Republicans to believe that full answers have been withheld, and Americans have seen little or no real accountability for a largely preventable outrage.

As Todd notes, several House and Senate committees launched their own inquiries, but the White House withheld certain documents and evidence, which raises serious doubts about how thoroughly and accurately those committees’ questions have been answered. For example, the White House never sent Congress an e-mail from Ben Rhodes instructing then–ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to “underscore these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy,” infuriating lawmakers.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the White House didn’t include the e-mail in its disclosures to Capitol Hill because it wasn’t about Benghazi, but ABC News’s Jonathan Karl noted that the e-mail in question has an entire section labeled “Benghazi.” How many other documents have been withheld because the administration judged them not relevant, were momentarily struck with inexplicable illiteracy, or simply deemed them too damaging or embarrassing to turn over to Congress?

Earlier, senators had complained about heavily redacted documents:

“It was so redacted that there was no information whatsoever,” said the source, who spoke to Fox on the condition they not be identified. “There were some documents that were 100 pages with every word on the page redacted. They were worthless.”

More than a year after the attack, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) was informed that he could not interview the survivors of the attack because it would somehow interfere with the criminal prosecution of the perpetrators. This decision came as surprising news to FBI director James Comey, whose agency is responsible for that prosecution. Comey said he had no objection to the interviews. After Graham finally did speak with the survivors, he said some told him “they’ve been told to be quiet.”

While it’s entirely possible that Graham is misinterpreting or mischaracterizing the survivors’ comments, it’s impossible to know as long as the survivors’ comments and testimony remain hidden from the public. When the public has gotten to hear from those close to the events on the ground, such as Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya who was in Tripoli at the time of the attack, the testimony has offered a gripping, eye-opening, and disturbing portrait of the U.S. government being caught flat-footed and unable to mobilize in a crisis.

This is a particularly cynical strategy by the administration: They take as long as possible to provide the information and then complain that Congress remains obsessed with long-ago issues. Former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor exemplified the delay-then-demand-others-move-on approach when he recently told Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier, “Dude, this was like two years ago.”

Read more at National Review

Diane Feinstein says the unsayable

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Center For Security Policy, By Frank Gaffney:

Yesterday was a red letter day – or perhaps it should be called an Islamic green letter one – for U.S. intelligence.  For the first time I can recall, the top legislator on a congressional oversight committee has actually made clear what motivates our enemies in what used to be called euphemistically the “War on Terror,” and that Team Obama now dubs even more opaquely as the effort to “counter violent extremism.”

This breakthrough came in the course of a joint appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” by the chairpersons of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), respectively. The media seized on the ostensibly big news out of their remarks: bipartisan agreement that the United States is at greater risk of terrorist attack today than two years ago.

But important, ominous and accurate as that assessment is, it wasn’t the most important point made by these two respected lawmakers. Instead, it was Sen. Feinstein’s observation in response to a question about what causes the “hatred” that makes our situation more perilous:

“There is a real displaced aggression in this very fundamentalist jihadist Islamic community, and that is that the West is responsible for everything that goes wrong and that the only thing that’s going to solve this is Islamic shariah law.”

What makes this incontrovertible statement so noteworthy?  It is the fact that the intelligence community is not allowed to say what Sen. Feinstein did.  Under Obama administration guidelines, for intelligence officers – and for that matter, law enforcement, Homeland Security and military personnel – to talk about Islamic jihadism and shariah as the motivation for terrorism can be a career-ending offense.

For example, on May 10, 2012, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, used a press conference to denounce a highly decorated and up-and-coming Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley, for teaching an elective course at the Joint Forces Staff College using an approved curriculum.  According to Gen. Dempsey, what prompted this extraordinary action was that a student – who it turns out had not actually been enrolled in Col. Dooley’s class – “was concerned that the course was objectionable and that it was counter to our values…our appreciation for religious freedom and cultural awareness. And the young man who brought it to my attention was absolutely right. It’s totally objectionable.”

At the core of what was so “totally objectionable” is the fact that students were exposed to information that made plain the gravity of the threat of which Sen. Feinstein warned: the supremacist, totalitarian Islamic doctrine of shariah and the jihad or holy war it obliges adherents to perform.  Col. Dooley’s promising career was cut short and the files of his institution and that of the rest of the national security community have been purged of all such information deemed by unidentified subject matters experts engaged for the purpose to be “counter to our values.”

Sen. Feinstein’s forthright declaration is particularly gratifying as I had an opportunity to discuss the danger posed by shariah with her in the course of testimony I provided the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 24, 2013 at the invitation of her colleague, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).  In the course of making the case for keeping the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open, I observed:

“We have been obliged to go to war because it was thrust upon us. And, if we are to prevail in this conflict, we must understand the nature of the enemies with whom we are at war. They are shariah-adherent jihadists who believe, in accordance with that doctrine, that it is God’s will that they destroy our way of life and subjugate us to theirs.”

At the time, Sen. Feinstein strongly disagreed with my view that shariah’s dictates make it impossible safely to release its adherents from Gitmo or, alternatively, to incarcerate them instead in this country – where they might exploit rights foolishly conferred upon them to secure their freedom and wage jihad here.  I hope that the clarity she expressed Sunday about the inexorable nature of the shariah doctrine and the supremacist hatred it impels will cause the senior senator from California both to insist that such insights are once again inculcated in those responsible for our security and to reconsider her support for closing Guantanamo Bay.

 

The evidence for Syrian chemical weapons use crumbles

eb6a718b2aab49148e4190b3003c4b1d-e1378733601938By Kenneth Timmerman:

Now we learn that President Obama may be second-guessing his “decision’ to launch military action – that Secretary of State John Kerry insists is not “going to war” — to punish Syria for a chemical weapons attack the United States has not proved it carried out.

That is good news for the American servicemen and women who would be facing very real threats on a very real battlefield if the President did give the order to fight. For example, if the Russian spy ship Priazovye (SSV-201), now stationed in the Mediterranean, were to have used its high-power laser systems to blind American pilots flying toward Syria, would they become victims of “workplace violence,” like the victims of Fort Hood jihadist, Major Malik Hassan?

In classified hearings last week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, was hard-pressed to justify unilateral U.S. military action, sources privy to the closed door sessions tell me.

As currently conceived by the President, U.S. military strikes would not significantly degrade Assad’s military, Gen. Dempsey admitted. And there was a “real possibility’ that our actions would widen the conflict, bringing in Iran and Russia and involving Israel.

Now the White House is soft-peddling its so-far unsupported claims that the Syrian regime was responsible for the August 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people in a suburb of Damascus.

With the 13-minute compilation of YouTube videos the administration presented before the Senate Select Committee on intelligence last Thursday – and provided to CNN on Sunday – the Obama administration is now resorting to a “hearts and minds” campaign with the American public.

We are now supposed to launch military strikes on Syria based on a guilty conscience. Or as Secretary Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations committee last week, because if we fail to act, who knows what bad things Assad will do in the future.

The administration’s case for limited military strikes against Syria is falling apart even before President Obama has spoken to the American people.

Read more at the Daily Caller

 

Just say no on Syria

1609301503CSP, By Frank Gaffney, Jr.:

Team Obama’s public campaign to embroil the United States in Syria’s civil war has kicked into high gear.  The President’s senior subordinates have been warning incessantly about the costs of inaction, and making preposterous promises about the benefits of conducting a limited attack on Bashir Assad’s regime.

President Obama is throwing himself into the sales pitch, too, with a saturation round of TV appearances Monday night and an address to the nation Tuesday.

Will all this lobbying work?  Will skeptical legislators ignore their constituents – who overwhelmingly recognize the folly of this proposal – and do as the White House and some Republicans demand?  Not if the common sense of most Americans prevails, as common sense tells us our attacking Syria will not make things better.  Rather, it likely will make matters worse, and probably much worse.

Here’s a sanity check on the case being made by the proponents.

The principal argument of advocates of a new authorization for the use of military force principal has two facets:  First, the United States has an international responsibility to act in the face of chemical weapons use.  And second, if we don’t, Assad, Iran and others will employ them with impunity and the mullahs in Tehran will no longer fear our red lines on their nuclear programs.

The United Nations, the Left and others hostile to American power have long sought to subordinate it to the dictates of the so-called “international community.”  The doctrine of a “responsibility to protect” (R2P) was tailor-made for this purpose:  It furthers the notion that the use of force is only legitimate when a UN mandate has been provided or, where that’s not possible (due to Russian and/or Chinese vetoes), where some other grounds can be found for invoking an international authority.

More to the point, R2P ensures that the U.S. military’s finite – and currently seriously overstretched – resources will be put to use punishing those whose barbarism violates “international norms,” the enforcement of which becomes defined as a vital American interest.  Consequently, a vote for Obama’s Syria resolution is a vote to legitimate and authorize the transnationalist grab for control of the only armed forces we have, at the expense of our sovereignty and, inevitably, of our security.

As to the possibility that, absent our attack, we will confront more chemical weapons use, it cannot be ruled out.  On the other hand, no one – no one – has explained how “degrading Assad’s capabilities” and “changing the momentum of the battlefield” (as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution demands) will assure greater control of the Syrian dictator’s vast chemical arsenal.  In fact, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey has testified that the U.S. strike will target the regime’s weapons used to protect that arsenal.

Even in the absence of such a deliberate purpose, we have to assume that either the designated terrorist group allied with Assad (Hezbollah) or the one dominating the opposition (al Qaeda) will gain access to some of these arms.  Consequently, those voting for the President’s resolution have no claim to a higher moral authority than the opponents when it comes to preventing future examples of the horrific incidents captured in videos of Syrian victims that the administration is shamelessly exploiting to buffalo legislators.

Then, there is the ultimate appeal being made to patriots – in and out of the Congress – found in the assertion that not just the President’s credibility, but the nation’s, is on the line. Some Republican legislators and a number of former officials of GOP administrations have embraced this argument.  They warn that the repercussions of defeating Mr. Obama this time will be to damage confidence in America for the duration of his presidency, with potentially devastating effects.

Unfortunately, inordinate damage has already been done to our leadership in the world as a result of nearly five years of what passes for this president’s security policy-making.  That has been the predictable effect of the Obama Doctrine – which I have reduced down to nine words: emboldening our enemies, undermining our allies, diminishing our country.  And, as Norman Podhoretz trenchantly put it in the Wall Street Journal on Monday: “[Obama’s] foreign policy, far from a dismal failure, is a brilliant success as measured by what he intended all along to accomplish….The fundamental transformation he wished to achieve here was to reduce the country’s power and influence.”

As a result, the question before the Congress this week is not whether the United States credibility will be degraded by its repudiation of what is, in fact, more of a Gulf of Tonkin-style blank-check than a restrictive authorization for only a limited military action.  Rather, it is:  Will we be able to measure the marginal additional harm done to our nation’s prestige, power and influence – all ingredients in its credibility – given the damage Mr. Obama has already done to them?

It was predictable, and predicted, that the whirlwind Barack Obama has sown, would be reaped eventually.  That moment may be at hand.  Thanks in no small measure to the decisions taken to date – including those that have hollowed out our military, reduced our presence and power-projection capabilities and contributed to the metastasizing of, among other threats, the Islamist cancer – there are no good options in Syria.  Unfortunately, the worst of them at the moment appears to be our going to war there, and Congress should decline to do so.

A war the Pentagon doesn’t want

images (90)By Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general, and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.

The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria. It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war. As Secretary of State John Kerry’s thundering voice and arm-waving redounded in rage against Bashar al-Assad’s atrocitiesDempsey was largely (and respectfully) silent.

Dempsey’s unspoken words reflect the opinions of most serving military leaders. By no means do I profess to speak on behalf of all of our men and women in uniform. But I can justifiably share the sentiments of those inside the Pentagon and elsewhere who write the plans and develop strategies for fighting our wars. After personal exchanges with dozens of active and retired soldiers in recent days, I feel confident that what follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.

They are repelled by the hypocrisy of a media blitz that warns against the return of Hitlerism but privately acknowledges that the motive for risking American lives is our “responsibility to protect” the world’s innocents. Prospective U.S. action in Syria is not about threats to American security. The U.S. military’s civilian masters privately are proud that they are motivated by guilt over slaughters in Rwanda, Sudan and Kosovo and not by any systemic threat to our country.

They are outraged by the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about “red lines.” These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president. Our serving professionals make the point that killing more Syrians won’t deter Iranian resolve to confront us. The Iranians have already gotten the message.

Read more at Washington Post

New Centcom underground war room in Amman for US intervention in Syria

Debkafile:

 

images (9)Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Amman this week to inaugurate the Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan manned by 273 US officers. US media correspondents were permitted to visit the new war room for the first time on condition of non-disclosure of its location and secret facilities. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the installation is bomb- and missile-proof against a possible Syrian attack. The US Air Force command section is in direct communication with the US, Israeli, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force headquarters ready for an order by President Barack Obama to impose a partial no-fly zone over Syrian air space.

Another section is designed to coordinate operations between US and Jordanian special forces, as well as the units trained in commando combat by US instructors in Jordan.  A closed section houses CIA personnel who control the work of US agents going in and out of Syria and also a communications center.
In his briefing to US forces Thursday, Aug. 15, Gen. Dempsey commented: “Jordan lives in a very volatile region and at a very critical time in its history. They can count on us to continue to be their partner.”

He suggested that the operation could continue well into next year or beyond.
Situated atop the underground facility is a large surface structure accommodating the American military and civilian offices dealing with Syrian issues from Jordan. It is guarded by US and Jordanian security units.

There are today some 1,000 US military personnel in the Hashemite Kingdom, plus a squadron of F-16 fighters and several Patriot anti-missile batteries strung along the Jordanian-Syrian border to shield Jordanian and American bases and the capital, Amman.
This special DEBKAfile video presentation illustrates US, Saudi, and Jordanian preparations for military intervention in the Syrian civil war and its likely repercussions.

Obama’s final decision on US military intervention – consisting of a no fly and a buffer zone in Syria – is expected in the coming two to three weeks, depending on Dempsey’s recommendations upon his return to Washington after checking out preparations in Israel and Jordan. In neither operation will US boots touch Syrian soil.

The buffer zone in the south up to Damascus would be captured by 3,000 rebels trained in special operations tactics and armed by US forces in Jordan. Jordanian special forces are to spearhead the operation under US command.

Assad may take the fight outside his borders by launching missiles against Israel, Jordan and maybe Turkey.
Hizballah may join in with rocket attacks on Israel. Iran will beef up its active military presence in Syria and Jordan. And Russian Rapid Intervention units are on standby for saving Assad at their Black Sea and South Caucasian bases

 

How American Leaks May Help Arm Israel’s Enemies

by Yaakov Lappin,
Special to IPT News:

 

The leakers, whoever they are, could be creating real harm for Israel’s overall policy of keeping advanced arms from reaching Iran’s proxy terrorist group in Lebanon. That’s a problem for American officials to address regardless of whether that harm is deliberate or inadvertent.

Benghazi Investigation Still Very Much Ongoing

5829917074_8c9c57e0e8_zHeritage Foundation, May 29, 2013

By :

Benghazi is back in the headlines with a vengeance as investigations continue on several congressional fronts:

  • Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA) subpoenaed the State Department to deliver more email threads on the Benghazi talking points;
  • The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee threatened to subpoenaAmbassador Thomas Pickering regarding the Accountability Review Board’s inadequate investigation; and
  • The House Armed Services Committee is probing the absent military response on the night of September 11, 2012.

While many aspects of the Benghazi scandal are troubling, the lack of information on the military front is particularly serious. Getting information out of the Pentagon has been like pulling teeth. The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February revealed that former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey had briefed President Obama at 5:00 p.m. on the day of the Benghazi terrorist attack, and unbelievably had had no communication after that.

Dempsey then informed the committee that there were no assets available that could have reached Benghazi in time to assist the American diplomats and CIA personnel under attack there — a statement that was contradicted directly by Gregory Hicks, second in command at the U.S. embassy in Libya, in highly emotional testimony. As Hicks revealed, a military support team was ready to take off from Tripoli to Benghazi on the night of the attack, but was told to stand down. By whom we don’t yet know.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon (R–CA), has been vigilant in seeking answers and has told Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that he is “deeply concerned” about the lack of answers, reported The Washington Examiner’s Byron York. Last week, McKeon’s committee received a briefing from Pentagon officials, the content of which unfortunately remains largely classified, as does far too much of the information relating to Benghazi. Among McKeon’s questions are:

What aircraft the U.S. had in the region that might have come to the Americans’ aid; where those planes were; whether they were armed or could have been armed; whether they would have needed refueling; the presence of un-manned aircraft, armed and unarmed; the status of various U.S. emergency response teams; and the decisions commanders at all levels made in deciding to deploy or not deploy those assets.

The congressional committees involved in the investigation are doing yeoman’s work. Their stubborn persistence will eventually unearth the truth about Benghazi. The future safety of U.S. diplomatic and military personnel serving overseas depends on it.

Problems in the U.S. Military: Denying Islam’s Role in Terror

The U.S. Army seems to have succumbed to PC-Islamist sensitivities. It has issued a special handbook for soldiers that appears to justify jihad as "communal military defense … when [Muslims] are threatened or under attack." In addition, U.S. servicewomen have been urged to don head scarves when interacting with Afghan locals while all soldiers are warned to "respect Islam" in order to prevent violence there.

The U.S. Army seems to have succumbed to PC-Islamist sensitivities. It has issued a special handbook for soldiers that appears to justify jihad as “communal military defense … when [Muslims] are threatened or under attack.” In addition, U.S. servicewomen have been urged to don head scarves when interacting with Afghan locals while all soldiers are warned to “respect Islam” in order to prevent violence there.

by David J. Rusin
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2013 (view PDF)

Editors’ note: This article discusses many public figures in the context of the positions they held in December 2012 when the article was submitted. There has been much turnover in government and military posts since then, but the problems caused by political correctness remain despite the changes in personnel.

As U.S. service members risk their lives to combat violent jihadists abroad, military leaders, both uniformed and civilian, capitulate to stealth jihadists at home. By bending to Islamists’ appeals for religious sensitivity, these leaders ignore the most crucial lesson of the Fort Hood massacre: Political correctness can kill.

The War On Training

A key battleground in the war of ideas between Islamists and the West is military training because Islamists seek to suppress knowledge of their beliefs and goals.[1] This campaign hit high gear in 2011 when journalist Spencer Ackerman of Wired launched a series of articles documenting “offensive” training employed by various government agencies. He highlighted, among others, FBI materials stating that Islamic doctrine calls for war against non-Muslims and equating greater religious devotion with the potential for violence.[2]

On October 19, 2011, dozens of Muslim groups, many Islamist in nature, signed a letter to John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, with a copy to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, demanding that the administration “purge … biased materials” and jettison “bigoted trainers.”[3]However, Panetta’s Department of Defense was already on the case. Five days prior, Jose Mayorga, deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, had directed the Joint Staff to compile information on the “current processes used to vet CVE [countering violent extremism] trainers.”[4]

The Islamists’ most notable scalp to date—presented to them by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army general Martin Dempsey—is that of Matthew Dooley, a decorated Army lieutenant colonel who had taught at the Joint Forces Staff College of the National Defense University.[5] At issue was Dooley’s courseon Islam and Islamic radicalism during which he spoke of Islam as an ideology, not just a faith, and war-gamed provocative scenarios in which it would be confronted as such.[6]

A colonel enrolled in the class complained to his superiors, leading to the course’s suspension in April 2012.[7] On May 10, Wired published course materials focusing on a handful of slides conjecturing about “total war” and taking the conflict to civilians, but which also included a disclaimer that the specific counter-jihad model was meant “to generate dynamic discussion and thought” and did not constitute government policy.[8] According to The Washington Times, Dooley’s attorneys at the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) have maintained that “the discussion about all-out war … was conducted by a guest speaker. It involved theoretical ‘out of the box’ thinking on what happens if Islamic extremists commandeer Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and begin destroying U.S. cities: How does the U.S. respond?”[9]

External lecturers in the class were a major target of Wired, which highlighted their politically incorrect statements such as that the Crusades had been initiated after centuries of Muslim incursions and that Islamists see the fall of Arab regimes as stepping stones to global dominance.[10] Ironically, one maligned guest speaker, Stephen Coughlin, had been fired from his post with the Joint Staff years earlier because of his own controversial work on Islamic warfare.[11]

Though one could debate whether aspects of Dooley’s approach were unbalanced, the military’s reaction surely was. Hours after the Wired exposé appeared, Dempsey condemned the class at a news conference.[12] “It was just totally objectionable, against our values, and it wasn’t academically sound,” he said, adding that Dooley, referred to as “the individual,” was no longer teaching. Soon Dooley was ordered removed “for cause,” and his superiors produced a negative officer evaluation report, derailing his career.[13] On November 26, Ackerman relayed that Dooley had been transferred to a “bureaucratic backwater.”[14]

TMLC lawyers argue that the military chose to “throw him under the bus in public” without ever privately instructing Dooley to tweak the course’s content.[15] The center further asserts that Dempsey’s words prejudiced the investigation, that the syllabus had been approved, and that university policies guarantee the right to academic expression “free of limitations, restraints, or coercion by the university or external environment.”[16] Two congressmen also objected to what they saw as excessive punishment;[17] in response, the Pentagon issued a report defending Dooley’s dismissal on the basis that the class “did not meet appropriate academic standards” and was “overtly negative with respect to Islam.”[18] According to a TMLC press release, the military’s primary goal was to appease Islamists and make an example out of Dooley, so others “will refrain from telling the truth about Islam or confronting the difficult strategic challenges facing our nation for fear of jeopardizing their professional careers.”[19]

Read more at Middle East Forum

 

Obama Wants To Disarm Americans But Arm Terrorists

imagesCAOERYUZBy Theodore Shoebat

Obama wants to decree a ban on all assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, which would apply to rifles and pistols.  On this ban, Obama stated clearly:

 

 

I’m going to be putting forward a package and I’m going to be putting my full weight behind it… I’m going to be making an argument to the American people about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again.

Yet, the Obama administration has been involved in providing weapons to rebels who have committed many atrocities throughout Syria. Why must Americans be disarmed and jihadists be given weapons to? Americans are simply observing a right, while the Islamists want guns to force Syria into becoming a Sharia governed state.

Leon Panetta, who is now retiring, and General Martin Dempsey, the principle military adviser of Obama, have both revealed that they supported a plan last year composed by Hillary Clinton and General Petraeus that would provide weapons to the Syrian rebels, who are all fighting for a jihadist cause.

John Mccain also supported, and still supports, this plan, saying

“I urge the president to heed the advice of his former and current national security leaders and immediately take the necessary steps, along with our friends and allies, that could hasten the end of the conflict in Syria”

Though Obama is said to have turned down this plan, he still has supported the Syrian rebellion in a very covert and elusive manner. The current administration has instead used a middle-man: Saudi Arabia, to receive American weapons and then transfer them to the hands of the jihadists.

Read more at Shoebat.com

 

Joint Chiefs Chairman: ‘Arab Spring’ Brought “New Norm of Instability”

mtp-130130-panetta-dempsey-938a_grid-6x2By Patrick Poole:

A surprising exchange yesterday on Meet the Press yesterday with guests departing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.

Chuck Todd asked the Joint Chiefs Chairman if there were any lessons learned from the Benghazi debacle, which elicited a shocking admission:

TODD: And is there anything that could have been done better on the intelligence front, you think that could have given you more time to do something or is this something that, you know, this is– this is what happens in a place like Libya that right now is an unstable state?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, we– we’ve learned a lot from the Benghazi incident. And we– as the Secretary said, we work with the State Department and, you know, kind of surveying those parts of the world where– where there’s a new norm, if you will, of– of instability in terms of, you know, discussing the intelligence apparatus. It’s pretty easy to talk about the intelligence failures. We don’t talk much about them many times when we have intelligence and we’re able to stop or prevent, disrupt an attack so, of course, we should continue to learn from these events.

A “new norm of instability”? Wait, what? Why didn’t we hear about this during the presidential campaign? Whatever might have prompted this “new norm of instability”?

Read more at PJ Media

Newly Revealed Document Vindicates Army Lt. Colonel Matthew Dooley In Anti-Islam Controversy

pentagon_2_
In December 2011, the National Defense University’s Deputy VP for Academic Affairs, Dr. Brenda Roth, officially confirmed in writing to the Pentagon that all course materials at the National Defense University were vetted and approved by the University and its military command.  This official confirmation covered the content and outside guest speakers used in its course entitled Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism.Nevertheless, four months later General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disregarding Dr. Roth’s official report, publicly excoriated and fired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Matthew Dooley, an instructor involved with the course, on grounds that the course was offensive to Islam and unprofessional; he also ordered LTC Dooley’s career–ending negative Officer Evaluation Report.

In the newly revealed official communication written on December 2, 2011, Dr. Roth informed the Pentagon that “The curriculum is vetted through College-level curriculum committees or academic review committees which ensure students receive a senior-level professional education (vice training) in national security strategy.”

According to Dr. Roth,“The College Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs reviews and vets proposed speakers for their subject matter expertise and academic and teaching credibility. The Commandants [Generals] have the final review of recommended speakers and issues invitations to those he approves.”

Dr. Roth’s official report was written in response to a Pentagon inquiry about the vetting process and use of outside lecturers to avoid Muslim criticism of federal agencies that present an offensive view of Islam.

Click here to read Dr. Roth’s entire Report.

The course on Islamic Radicalism was first established in 2004.  The external guest speakers used in the elective were all approved under the watch of Brigadier General Marvin Smoot, USAF, in 2009-2010, well before Dooley’s arrival.  LTC Dooley began as an instructor of the Radical Islam course in 2011.  He received the highest officer evaluations for his effectiveness as an instructor that included a recommendation that he be promoted and given a command as soon as possible.

Brigadier General Marvin Smoot, USAF, was the commandant of the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) when the various guest speakers “critical of Islam” were vetted.  Moreover, in 2011 General Smoot gave LTC Dooley an outstanding Officer Evaluation Report for his performance as an instructor. General Smoot’s replacement as JFSC commandant, Major General Joseph Ward, also thought highly of LTC Dooley, but nonetheless followed orders and wrote a negative evaluation.

Two Republican Congressmen, Representatives Duncan Hunter of California and Thomas Rooney of Florida questioned the severity of Dooley’s punishment.   Army Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti, responding on behalf of General Dempsey, still blamed LTC Dooley for poor judgment but admitted “that there were institutional failures in oversight and judgment.”  Those institutional failures, therefore, must rest on the doorstep of the generals in charge of the institution, not on an instructor who received multiple accolades from his superiors for the great job he was doing.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, the public interest law firm representing LTC Dooley, commented, “Any fair-minded person would conclude that Matt Dooley was thrown under the bus to protect the generals who had institutional responsibilities over the course. I believe the Pentagon wanted to curry favor with the White House and the Muslim community, which demanded that all training materials offensive to Islam be purged and the trainers who use them punished. The fact remains that the course and guest lecturers for which LTC Dooley was publicly ridiculed and punished were all approved by senior leaders long before he ever became an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC).”

 

Muslims Offended—Soldier’s Career Destroyed—Official Army Records Show Loss to Nation

Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Matthew Dooley

Thomas More Law Center:

ANN ARBOR, MI – During a Pentagon press conference on May 10, 2012, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly excoriated Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Matthew Dooley, a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a highly decorated combat veteran.  His reason: The course on Islamic Radicalism which LTC Dooley was teaching at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) of the National Defense University was offensive to Muslims.

General Dempsey characterized LTC Dooley’s course as “totally objectionable,” and ordered all material offensive to Islam scrubbed from military professional education within the JFSC and elsewhere. But that’s not all.  LTC Dooley was fired from his instructor position and given an ordered negative Officer Evaluation Report (OER) — the death-knell for a military career.

The actions against LTC Dooley follow a letter to the Department of Defense dated October 19, 2011 signed by 57 Muslim organizations demanding that all training materials offensive to Islam and Muslims be purged and the trainers disciplined.

A review of LTC Dooley’s OERs going back several years, including his OER as an instructor with JFSC, paint a picture of an outstanding officer with unlimited potential:

  • “LTC Matt Dooley’s performance is outstanding and he is clearly the best of our new instructors assigned to the JFSC faculty over the last six months. . . . A must select for battalion command. . . .  LTC Dooley possesses unlimited potential to serve in positions of much higher authority.”
  • “MAJ Dooley is unquestionably among the most dedicated and hard working officers I have ever known.…  Unsurpassed potential for future promotion and service.”
  • “Our soldiers deserve his leadership.”
  • “This officer possesses unlimited potential for future assignments.  He must be promoted ahead of his peers and selected for Battalion/Squadron Command at first opportunity.”
  • “Superb performance.”
  • “Matt is a consummate professional with unlimited potential;”

Click here for detailed excerpts from LTC Dooley’s Officer Evaluation Reports

The Thomas More Law Center, a national nonprofit public interest law firm, based in Ann, Arbor, Michigan, represents LTC Dooley. The Law Center decided to disclose excerpts from five of LTC Dooley’s previous Officer Evaluation Reports (OER) in order to give the public an idea of the loss to the Army and our Nation caused by the actions taken against LTC Dooley.

What happened to LTC Dooley is more than a personal miscarriage of justice.  When instructors are prohibited from teaching military officers about the true threat posed by Islamic Radicalism, it is a threat to our national security.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center observed, “As you read his OERs, linked here, I’m sure you will come to several conclusions about Matt Dooley.  First, he is an outstanding officer and had a brilliant career ahead of him.   Secondly, he loyally served every one of his commanders.  Third, he was respected by the men under his command.  Fourth, his superiors at the Joint Forces Staff College considered him an outstanding instructor.  And lastly, after all he has done for his country and the Army his superiors sacrificed him to the dogs of political correctness.”

OERs are required at least once a year and are normally completed by two superiors, namely, a rater and a senior rater.   The rating officer on an OER is usually the rated officer’s immediate supervisor, an officer of higher rank, who is most familiar with the rated soldier’s specific duties and performance. The senior rater is a leader who occupies the next higher duty position up from the rater and is best positioned to assess both the rated soldier’s performance in comparison to his peers, as well as the rated soldier’s future potential to serve in higher ranks and increased levels of responsibility.

The OERs clearly demonstrate that LTC Dooley’s raters and senior raters all considered him an outstanding officer and advocated his rapid promotion and advancement to the highest levels of responsibility.  Like many of his peers serving alongside him in the military, LTC Dooley has served honorably and with distinction through a number of complex operating environments. Nevertheless, he has become the latest victim of the “Great Purge” to appease the 57 Muslim groups which demanded that instructors using materials offensive to Islam be disciplined.

In fact, after General Dempsey’s public rebuke, a negative OER was ordered and prepared with direction from the Pentagon covering the period from June 2011 to June 2012.   In contrast to the inaccurate and unjust comments in the Pentagon-directed negative OER, the excerpts from earlier OERs describe LTC Dooley’s outstanding performance.

LTC Matt Dooley attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated and received his commission as a Second Lieutenant, Armor Branch in May 1994.  His assignments included deployment to Bosnia, Kuwait, and Iraq for a total of six operational and combat tours over the course of his career.   He served as a Tank Platoon Leader, Tank Company Commander, Headquarters Company Commander, Aide-de-Camp (to three General Officers), and Instructor at the Joint Combined Warfare School.  He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College as well as the Joint Forces Staff College.

 

Drawing a ‘Red Line’ to Protect Free Speech

By Mark Tapson:

Even as Islamic violence against American embassies swells around the world, and evidence emerges of its coordination and premeditation, our own government and media continue to insist that the source of it all is an hilariously incompetent YouTube film that offended Muslim hair-trigger sensitivities.

Americans abroad have been killed this last week. The black flag of jihad has been raised over our Egyptian embassy. Our Libyan ambassador was sodomized, murdered, mutilated and dragged through the streets. As with Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, the Danish cartoon riots, and Geert Wilders’ film Fitna, the Islamic uproar ostensibly due to the micro-budgeted The Innocence of Muslims has been riotous and murderous, but the blame is once again falling on the “provocateur,” not the rabid mobs looting and killing in the name of cultural sensitivity. Thanks to a president who always sides with the Islamic world over America, our kneejerk official response was to blame the seeming religious bigotry of the filmmaker.

Our State Department, which is in “meltdown,”  as Charles Krauthammer put it, has been scrambling to find the right wording for a response to all this, culminating in spokesman Jay Carney’s laughable pronouncement that “this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy; this is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.” So far, our official responses are all variations on the theme of “Nothing excuses this violence, but we also strongly condemn religious bigotry.” This neatly echoes the left’s attitude toward free speech in general these days, which is “Sure I believe in free speech, but hate speech must be punished.”

You cannot believe in free speech and then qualify it with a “but.” You either support free speech or you don’t. Honoring freedom of speech means you stand up for the right of others to say disagreeable or offensive things. If the left truly believed in free speech, the totalitarian concept of “hate speech” would not even exist. But they don’t, and so they are colluding with the OIC’s campaign to impose sharia blasphemy laws on the West.

The OIC, or Organization of Islamic Cooperation, is the world’s largest Muslim assembly, consisting of 57 member states (you know, the same number of U.S. states candidate Obama campaigned in). Its primary aim is “conducting a large-scale worldwide effort to confront Islamophobia” and make it an international crime. “We sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed,” the OIC leader arrogantly declared after the shrewdly orchestrated Muslim mayhem around the world protesting such infidel abominations as the Danish cartoons.

“Red lines” – a phrase reminiscent of Samuel Huntington’s famous observation that “Islam has bloody borders.” Except that the red lines the OIC is referring to aren’t geographical – they are the ever-tightening limits that Muslim fundamentalists are imposing to choke off our freedoms. Free speech “is not a value that the Muslims share with America as a whole,” declared the American group Revolution Muslim in response to an offending episode of Comedy Central’s satirical show South Park two years ago.

It’s also not valued by our administration, either. The government has asked YouTube to review the 14-minute The Innocence of Muslims trailer and determine whether it violates the site’s terms of service. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed his concerns over the repercussions for our soldiers abroad, who are already in grave danger from our own military leadership’s suicidal counter-insurgency idiocy. Dempsey urged controversial anti-Islam Pastor Terry Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film – which goes to show that if all it takes is one Florida pastor’s opinion to set off the entire Muslim world’s bloodthirsty outrage against America, maybe they’re the problem and not him.

Read more at Front Page