US military drops MOAB on Islamic State in Afghanistan

AP

Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, April 13, 2017:

The US military dropped the “MOAB,” the GBU-34 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb which is better known as the “Mother of all Bombs,” on Islamic State fighters in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. The strike took place in Achin, the same district where a US special forces solider was killed last week.

From the US Forces Afghanistan press release:

At 7:32 pm local time today, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan conducted a strike on an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017.

The strike used a GBU-43 bomb dropped from a U.S. aircraft. The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” said General John W. Nicholson, Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”

U.S. Forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. U.S. Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan.

US and Afghan forces have been attempting to clear the Islamic State’s so-called Khorasan province from Achin and several other districts in eastern Afghanistan for nearly two years, but like the Taliban in other areas of Afghanistan, the group remains entrenched. The deployment of the MOAB may indicate a degree of desperation in the fight against the Islamic State in Achin district. This is the first use of such a weapon, which is described as the largest bomb next to a nuke, in Afghanistan.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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14 Obama Holdovers Still at the Pentagon

Drew Angerer – Pool/Getty Images

Breitbart, by Kristina Wong, March 16, 2016:

WASHINGTON – There are 14 Obama holdovers still at the Pentagon, two months into the Trump administration.

Currently, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is the only presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed appointee at the Pentagon, out of 53 such positions.

Obama holdovers are filling four of those positions: Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work remains in his position; Robert Speer is serving as Acting Army Secretary; Sean Stackley is serving as Acting Navy Secretary; and Lisa Disbrow as Acting Air Force Secretary.

The Pentagon said there are 10 other Obama holdovers still serving, but has declined to name who they are or what positions they are filling.

Trump has filled an additional 32 slots for non-Senate confirmed positions, for a total of 33 hires, including Mattis. That number is less than a fourth of the 163 political appointees at the Pentagon on election day.

The White House was expected to announce a handful of names for top political positions at the Pentagon as soon as this week, a defense official told Breitbart News. The White House declined to give a time frame for the announcement.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis on Monday brushed off suggestions it was taking longer than usual to get appointees in:

“You have to remember, eight years ago, we kept our secretary — Secretary [Robert] Gates at the time, so a lot of people stayed on with him, and you didn’t have as abrupt of a transition. For those of us who were around 16 years ago, it was pretty abrupt and we saw positions that went unfilled for many months. It takes time to interview, to find the most qualified candidates, to vet them, to get agreement on them, to send them to the Senate for confirmation.”

Trump has also named picks for Pentagon general counsel and Air Force Secretary, but the Senate has not yet confirmed them.

“There will be more to come. It’s a process,” Davis said.  He said Mattis has “put a lot of names forward that are currently going through the final stages of vetting. We think that there will be multiple announcements coming very soon.”

Civil servants and former defense officials say the lack of political appointees has had an effect on Pentagon’s operations.

One civil servant complained privately that the Joint Staff — military staff who support a body of senior military leaders who advise the president — is running “roughshod” over the Office of Secretary of Defense, according to a former defense official.

The former official said civil servants who are filling leadership roles temporarily don’t want to formulate new policies that get ahead of Trump appointees who may change or disagree with them, and either sit silent in meetings or advocate for previous policies.

It’s not clear how that might be affecting several reviews the Pentagon is currently undergoing, including on the strategy to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), on how to rebuild readiness of the armed forces, and on its nuclear missile defense posture.

Former Obama administration defense official Loren DeJonge Schulman said without a trusted agent from the Trump political team in the building to lead those reviews, it may be a more military-led process.

“There are fewer politicals, there are civilians who are not in power, and President Trump trusts the military more…the [elements] are there to have a more military-led process,” said Schulman, currently deputy director of studies and the Leon E. Panetta Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

“It’s hard to run a strategy review when you don’t have your political leader in place,” she said.

Another official at the Pentagon said it is possible the military is having more influence in policy discussions, but pointed out that at the end of the day, policy decisions go to Mattis, who despite being a retired-four star Marine general, is a civilian.

A spokesman from the Joint Staff said in an email to Breitbart News: “From our perspective, the Joint Staff is being participating, contributing and working collaboratively with OSD fully when, where and how asked,” he said.

Schulman, who first served as a special assistant to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said that what is more worrisome is that the lack of appointees is preventing important work from being done, particularly with foreign partners.

She said, for example,  the prime minister of a small country who is visiting the U.S. may not meet with the president but will often meet with senior defense officials instead.

Now, she said, there is rarely anyone to meet with. Some defense officials have gone overseas to meet with foreign counterparts, but could only sit and listen, not participate or negotiate since they lack policy guidance, she said.

“Any meeting they go to which requires them to have a position or be a part of a negotiation, it either requires them to stay silent, or to rely on the old administration’s policy, or to have to go to Mattis and say, ‘Hey what’s our position on X, Y, and Z,’ and that’s simply not possible for him to weigh in on everything DOD does. That’s why we have political appointees,” said Schulman.

There has also been grumbling from Capitol Hill, with lawmakers complaining there is no one to talk to at the Department.

Schulman said it has always taken awhile for administration to get top appointees in place, such as under secretaries. However, she said under the Obama administration, deputy assistant secretaries put almost immediately in place in priority areas, she said.

“We’re not seeing that here,” she said.

Also see:

Vets say they were duped into helping Saudi Arabia dodge payouts to 9/11 victims

Former US Marine Sgt. Timothy Cord Kim Raff

Former US Marine Sgt. Timothy Cord Kim Raff

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, March 5, 2017:

Agents of the Saudi Arabian government are using US veterans as pawns in a scheme to gut a new law clearing a path for 9/11 families to sue the kingdom for its alleged role in the attacks, several vets complained in interviews with The Post.

“I joined the Marine Corps as a direct result of 9/11, so to be wined and dined by the very people I joined to fight against, that was sickening,” said Timothy Cord, who served as a Marine sergeant in Iraq.

Vets say the Saudi scam involves soliciting them to go on all-expenses-paid trips to Washington — including lodging at the posh new Trump hotel near the White House — to help pressure lawmakers into amending the recently passed bill, Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).

Trip organizers Qorvis MSLGROUP, however, are allegedly failing to disclose to participants that the Saudi government is funding the trips through some 75 paid foreign agents it’s hired across the US to oppose the law, which passed unanimously in September.

Vets complain they’re not only being misled but openly lied to. During one recent trip, an organizer denied any “Saudi involvement” in sponsoring the trip, even though federal filings show the organizer has a $100,000 contract with the Saudis and is a registered foreign agent for the kingdom.

In their recruiting pitch to vets, the Saudi lobbyists, who pose as veteran advocates, claim that JASTA exposes them as well as “150,000 [US] military personnel stationed in over 150 countries” to “retaliatory lawsuits” in foreign courts — even though international law experts note that JASTA deals only with the immunity of foreign states, and poses little if any risk to individuals.

Vets felt shock and anger when they found out they were duped into doing “the Saudis’ dirty work,” as one put it.

Thomas J. Hermesman, who was deployed in Afghanistan as a Marine sergeant, joined the Jan. 23-26 trip to Washington flown out of Durango, Colo.,with nearly 50 other vets. “The organizers were definitely keeping stuff from us,” Hermesman said. “We didn’t get the full story. It was pretty shady.”

He said organizers told the vets if they ever traveled again in Iraq or Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, they could be stopped at a checkpoint and taken into custody as a terrorist thanks to JASTA.

A briefing paper for the DC meetings drew some suspicion. In tiny print at the bottom of the second page, it reads: “This is distributed by Qorvis MSLGROUP on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia.”

Former Sgt. Cord said the trip leader, Jason E. Johns, shot down any concerns about Mideast sponsorship as soon as the vets arrived in DC. “He stood up the first night to announce that ‘there are rumors going around about Saudi involvement, and they absolutely aren’t [involved].’ ”

Johns’ bio describes him as president of No Man Left Behind Veterans Advocacy Group. But federal records also list him as a registered Saudi agent making $100,000 to mobilize vets to lobby against JASTA. The primary registrant on his disclosure form is Qorvis MSLGROUP, the Saudi government’s top PR firm in Washington.

“It really pisses me off that vets are being lied to by other vets that are in the Saudis’ pocketbook,” said Cord, who says he wants to alert others in the veteran community that they’re being targeted and set up by the Saudi government. Johns did not respond to requests for comment.

Cord calls the trips to Washington a form of bribery. All travel expenses were covered for his group’s four-day trip — including airfare and taxis, as well as meals and rooms at the $560-a-night Trump International Hotel, where the vets were welcomed with a “reception in The Patton Room.” Even “complimentary drinks will be provided,” the itinerary states.

In exchange, it says, vets were expected to storm Congress and “make members fully aware that veterans have serious concerns regarding JASTA and convince them that JASTA needs to be amended.”

Marine Sgt. David Casler, who was flown in from Sacramento, says a prime target was the House Armed Services Committee. Casler says he and the other vets were warmly received by lawmakers and their staff, some of whom expressed an interest in “fixing” JASTA. “Who is going to turn down a vet?”

President Trump, who strongly supported JASTA during his campaign, would have to sign any amendments into the law.

The head of Qorvis denies he or his Arab client are trying to hide anything from vets they’re recruiting. “My understanding is everything is fully above board and everyone is fully informed of the issues,” Qorvis Managing Director Michael Petruzzello said.

JASTA has cleared a path for two large lawsuits against the Saudi government that could end up in millions of dollars in Saudi assets being seized in a court settlement. The suits will be aided by the recent release of the classified “28 pages” documenting Saudi government officials’ funding and other support for the Saudi hijackers. Saudi Embassy spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir did not return calls seeking comment.

Sperry is the author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”

Ralph Peters: What our nation would get with Gen. Mattis as Defense Secretary

Alex Wong / Getty

Alex Wong / Getty

Fox News, by Ralph Peters, December 2, 2016:

I’m lucky enough to know General James Mattis slightly. Just well enough to trust him unreservedly with our military and our nation’s security.

The president-elect could not choose a better man to be our next Secretary of Defense. Not just because Mattis is a battle-hardened Marine with a remarkable combat record. And not just because he has a mind of remarkable clarity and is, without question, the best-read general of his generation.

I trust Jim Mattis because he’s a man of character, that most un-Washingtonian quality. His public image is of one rough-and-tough Marine, but the man I’ve encountered is, above all, one of integrity. His code of honor is so out of fashion that one has to reach back to a Victorian vocabulary:  He has a noble spirit.

And he’s a genuine patriot, not a shouter with his eye on the next chance. He will do what’s right, not what’s expedient.  And he will never go along with anything he believes might harm our country.

In addition to plenty of dirty-boots experience in the Middle East and a deep knowledge of history—that most underrated study—Jim Mattis has another great qualification to be SecDef: He wasn’t looking for a job. He was happy in retirement, studying, helping his fellow Marines, and contributing thoughtfully to our national security behind the scenes.

The last time I heard from him—a bit before the election—he mentioned, not for the first time, that he was glad to be west of the Rockies. A Washington, D.C. post was not part of the plan; rather, he thought of farming in rural Washington State.

This matters. In an age of sycophants and clawing ambition, it’s a splendid prospect to have a classic patriot who’s willing to sacrifice to serve (as Jim Mattis already has for four decades in uniform).

Our most underrated president of the last century, Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, didn’t want anyone in his cabinet who actively sought the position. He wanted successful men from various walks of life who would have to leave successful careers and contented lives to come to Washington and run a department ethically (an earlier version of “draining the swamp”).

For General Mattis, the position of Secretary of Defense wouldn’t be just another inside-the-Beltway badge to add to his resume. The greatest danger would be that he would prove too honest for D.C.

Yet another quality Mattis would bring to the office—a vital one—is that he’s a superb listener (yet another rare quality in Washington). He’s not quick to speak, but when he finally does have his say, his words show command of the subject under discussion. And he uses words with the same economy as a rifleman uses bullets: no wasted rounds.

As a member of the Hoover Institution’s Military History Working Group, he’d listen to the rest of us blather on for hours before saying a word. Then he would succinctly, politely and irrefutably explain why we had no idea what we were talking about.

What would the nation get with General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense? Integrity. Deep knowledge. Courage, both moral and physical. Humility. Decency. Vision. A steely sense of duty. Fiscal responsibility. A natural leader of men.

In short, character.

Inevitably, we’ve heard plaints from the left about the “danger” of generals in high government positions, with the suggestion that they’ll take us into wars. But it hasn’t been the generals who’ve gotten us into our recent conflicts or who have failed to resolve them. For the last sixteen years, we’ve seen civilians with no military experience launch ill-considered wars and impulsive interventions without considering the second- and third-order effects. Generals, by contrast, are reluctant to send our troops to war—they know the complexity and the cost.

General Mattis has a long list of military accomplishments, but I suspect that one of the experiences that cut deepest came in 2004, in Fallujah. After a week of brutal, successful combat his Marines stood within forty-eight hours of a clear-cut victory over a terrorist army. And the Bush administration lost its collective nerve, calling a halt just short of the finish line. I watched the tragedy unfold from northern Iraq, where I was a guest of the Kurds. And we all said the same thing to each other:  “We’ll have to go back and finish this.” And we did have to go back, in less than a year.

Having seen his Marines die, only to be denied victory at the eleventh hour because the global media was howling, must have been terribly painful for General Mattis. One of the many reasons he’s so widely respected in military circles—not just by Marines—is that he understands that, contrary to academic pronunciamentos, victory is not only possible, but essential.

Jim Mattis not only fights the good fight—he fights to win. With him as our next Secretary of Defense, the United States of America would win.

Fox News Strategic Analyst Ralph Peters is a retired U.S. Army officer and former enlisted man. He is the author of prize-winning fiction and non-fiction books on the Civil War and the military. His latest is “The Damned of Petersburg: A Novel” (Forge Books, June 28, 2016).

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A Look into the Mind of Gen. James Mattis: 15 Quotes from Trump’s Secretary of Defense Pick by John Hayward

Retired Marine Corps General James Mattis is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Defense, and he is one of the most quotable figures in modern public life.

He rarely gives a speech without saying something that should be emblazoned on coffee mugs, or in some cases stenciled on the side of bombs. Here are some of his greatest hits:

  1. “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” – from a speech Mattis delivered to Marines arriving in Iraq in 2003. This is widely acclaimed as the ultimate Mattisism, winning extra cool points for being compatible with Patrick Swayze’s famous advice to new bouncers in Road House.
  2. “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” – probably the other most widely-repeated Mattisism, it has been quoted in contexts ranging from the Iraqi troop withdrawal to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.
  3. “You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. Share your courage with each other as we enter the uncertain terrain north of the Line of Departure. Keep faith in your comrades on the left and right and Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit.” – from a letter Mattis wrote to the 1st Marine Division, the day before they began their assault on Iraq in 2003. He is restated his point about using your head on the battlefield many times; another popular formulation was, “The most important six inches on the battlefield are between your ears.”
  4. “From our first days at San Diego, Parris Island, or Quantico, NCOs bluntly explained to us that the Corps would be entirely satisfied if we gave 100%, and entirely dissatisfied if we gave 99%. And those NCOs taught us the great pleasure of doing what others thought impossible.” – from a speech Mattis gave when receiving the Marine Corps University Foundation’s 2014 Semper Fidelis Award.
  5. “Now from a distance, I look back on what the Corps taught me: to think like men of action, and to act like men of thought!” – from the same 2014 Semper Fidelis Award speech.
  6. “I’ve never found it to be useful. I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I do better with that than I do with torture.” – Mattis’ thoughts on waterboarding, according to Donald Trump.
  7. “Every morning I woke up and the first three questions I had, had to do with Iran, and Iran, and Iran. It remains the single most belligerent actor in the Middle East.” – Mattis on Iran, from an April speech to the Center for Strategic & International Studies
  8. “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” – Mattis on the Taliban, at a 2005 panel discussion in San Diego, California. This one caused some trouble for Mattis. Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee defended him, but said “should have chosen his words more carefully.”
  9. “There are some people who think you have to hate them in order to shoot them. I don’t think you do. It’s just business.” – Mattis choosing his words more carefully, after the above-mentioned controversy.
  10. “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot. There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim. It’s really a hell of a lot of fun. You’re gonna have a blast out here! I feel sorry for every son of a bitch that doesn’t get to serve with you.” – Mattis drawing an important distinction between assholes and sons of bitches to a group of Marines in Iraq, as quoted by Thomas E. Ricks in his book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005.
  11. “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f**k with me, I’ll kill you all.” – Mattis to Iraqi tribal leaders, also quoted by Ricks in Fiasco.
  12. “In a country with millions of people and cars going everywhere, the enemy is going to get a car bomb out there once in a while. There are going to be good days and bad days. Bottom line.” – Mattis on the grim realities of counter-terrorism operations in a 2007 interview. He was talking about Iraq, but unfortunately his observation would be valid anywhere.
  13. “I think it’s very clear that this enemy has decided that the war, the real war for them, will be fought in the narrative, in the media. This is not a place where we’re going to take the enemy’s capital and run up our flag and drink their coffee and that sort of thing.” – from the same interview.
  14. “Marines don’t know how to spell the word defeat.” – proudly cited by the USMC as the retired General’s salute to the indomitable spirit of the Corps. Misusing this quote to tease Marines about their spelling abilities is not recommended.
  15. “I get a lot of credit these days for things I never did.” – Mattis on his own legend, to midshipmen at the Naval Academy in 2004. He also gets a lot of credit for things he never said, as hilariously satirized in a Twitter hashtag full of phony #MattisQuotes. (A sample: “Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a night. Set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”)

Pentagon in Internal Struggle Over Calling out Salafi Jihadism

The Pentagon. (Photo: © Creative Commons/David B. Gleason)

The Pentagon. (Photo: © Creative Commons/David B. Gleason)

Clarion Project, by Elliot Friedland, October 2, 2016:

From time to time, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the country’s most senior military officer below the commander-in-chief himself, puts out a National Military Strategy. This document is intended for senior American military commanders around the world and sets out big picture strategy guidance for how the U.S. military ought to cope with the myriad threats it may face in the line of duty.

New Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine General Joseph Dunford is compiling a new National Military Strategy. Special Operations Command (SoCom), the branch of the military charged with hunting down and killing terrorists, is providing input and expertise to the report.

SoCom is pushing for Salafi jihadism to be discussed in the report as the branch of Sunni Islam responsible for most global terrorism in the world today. It is the ideology shared by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

“If you look at threat doctrine from that perspective, it’s a much bigger problem because it’s not just the violent jihadists, it’s the non-violent jihadists who support them,” one person knowledgeable about the National Military Strategy told The Washington Times. “Pretending there is no relationship between the violent jihadists and Islam isn’t going to win. We’re completely ignoring the war of ideas. We’re still in denial. We’re pretending the enemy doesn’t exist.”

Dunford’s staff declined to comment on the upcoming report, which will be classified. The last National Military Strategy, by the previous chairman, General Martin Dempsey, was released publicly on the Joint Chiefs of Staff website.  It did not make mention the ideological roots of terrorism.

Sources close to the team responsible for preparing the National Military Strategy told The Washington Times  Dunford’s staff was not persuaded on the merits of including the term.

Quintan Wictorowicz, one of the architects of Obama’s national counter extremism policy, charted the relationships between Salafi jihadist groups (although he did not use that term) and other sects of Islam in a 2005 academic paper entitled A Genealogy of Radical Islam.

“Al Qaeda and the radical fundamentalists that constitute the new ‘global jihadi movement’ are not theological outliers. They are part of a broader community of Islamists known as ‘Salafis’ (commonly called ‘Wahhabis’).”

He distinguished between violent and non-violent Salafis saying “The jihadi faction believes that violence can be used to establish Islamic states and confront the United States and its allies. Non-violent Salafis, on the other hand, emphatically reject the use of violence and instead emphasize propagation and advice (usually private) to incumbent rulers in the Muslim world.”

Wictorowicz details several important theological points that distinguish this movement, notably the use of takfir to brand the enemies of the jihadi movement as apostates deserving of death and the concept of jahilliya which posits that the contemporary Muslim world is not really Muslim because they follow man-made laws and are therefore akin to the pagans who ruled Arabia before the time of Mohammed.

He names Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb as a central figure in the development of this doctrine.

Understanding this application of radical theology to the political sphere helps us to identify why certain groups are dedicated to fighting the United States and helps in setting out clearly the differences between Salafi jihadism and Sunni Islam in general.

Special Ops Command to Pentagon: Stop Ignoring Jihad

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But the Pentagon’s orders are to ignore the jihad come from on high.

CounterJihad, Sept. 26, 2016:

Staff officers of United States Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are stonewalling demands by the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to add Salafi Jihad to the description of our enemies.  The Washington Times reports:

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…  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.

…Special Operations Command wants the National Military Strategy to specifically name Salafi jihadism as the doctrine that inspires violent Muslim extremists. Salafi jihadism is a branch within Sunni Islam. It is embraced by the Islamic State and used to justify its mass killings of nonbelievers, including Shiite Muslims, Sunnis and Kurds, as well as Christians.  People knowledgeable about the discussion toldThe Washington Times that SoCom has not been able to persuade Gen. Dunford’s staff to include Salafi jihadism in any strategy draft.

The National Military Strategy (NMS) will be a classified document that will spell out the nation’s strategic goals and means of attaining those goals.  It occupies a middle position in a cycle of obtaining the right means to the nation’s strategic ends.  The NMS follows the production of the National Security Strategy (NSS), which is issued by the President of the United States.  The NSS is more general, as the President occupies the higher position of Commander in Chief, and lays out what the President takes to be the important goals of the nation globally.  The NMS is then prepared by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and lays out in much greater specificity military means to supporting the ends identified by the President in the NSS.  The NMS then serves both as guidance for combatant commanders, such as the commander of USSOCOM, and also for helping Congress to identify military budget priorities.

It is a crucial document, in other words, but one over which the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has only limited control.  The NSS sets limits on what the NMS can say.  Combatant commands like USSOCOM are deeply interested in the content of the document, as the NMS will set similar limits on what they are allowed to direct subordinate units to say and do.  SOCOM is encountering resistance at the Pentagon because they are asking the NMS to push out into territory that the author of the NSS does not want to enter.  The Pentagon’s orders come from the highest levels on this matter, indeed from the President of the United States himself.

For that reason it is no surprise that SOCOM’s pushback has not yet created any effect on the forthcoming strategy.  Nevertheless, they are manifestly correct about the importance of recognizing that the Islamic State (ISIS) is in fact Islamic.  As the classic text on war by Sun Tzu counsels, a nation can only be confident at war if its leaders understand not only themselves but also their enemy.  Refusing to understand your enemy is a crippling defect.

However, the identification of the problem as Salafi theology is only a partial fix.  Certainly within the context of the question of ISIS and al Qaeda, whom SOCOM have been instructed to treat as enemies, Salafi and Wahhabi Islam are the correct subsets of Islam to consider.  Yet there is another “brand” of Islamic theology that is just as radical, which is the velayat-e faqih model of Shia Islam pushed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.  SOCOM has not been ordered to treat Iran as an enemy.  Rather, the US military has been ordered to avoid conflict with Iran, and to operate alongside Iranian-backed irregulars in Iraq as if they were allies instead.  The result has been that our fighting forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria, as well as our naval forces in the Persian Gulf, have been exposed to huge risks that they are forbidden to combat.

Meanwhile Iran continues to develop long-range nuclear-capable missiles for warheads it currently swears it will never produce.  Iran installs advanced new anti-aircraft missiles to help fortify its Fordow nuclear site, which President Obama’s deal supposedly put beyond use.  Why fortify it against air attack, then?  Why develop missiles if you never intend to have a payload that would make them a useful option?

It is clear that our military is being forbidden from even thinking clearly, or speaking clearly, about the threats we face and where they originate.  The next President will need to reverse course, and quickly, if we are to avoid a disaster that costs American lives, America’s position in the world, and America’s national strategic goals.

The American Military and the Specter of an Untrustworthy Commander-In-Chief

hillary_clinton_testimony_to_house_select_committee_on_benghazi

Front Page Magazine, by Ari Leiberman, Sept. 8, 2016:

In August 1993, Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill dispatched a force of U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force commandos to war-torn Somalia in an effort to seize the Somali warlord, Mohammed Farrah Aidid. Military commanders had assessed the need for armor and air cover to carry out the dangerous mission. They requested M-1 Abrams tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, as well as AC-130 gunships but the Clinton administration obscenely denied the request placing U.S. forces in a very vulnerable situation.

On October 3, a taskforce of lightly armed U.S. forces seized a good portion of Aidid’s political and military echelon in Mogadishu as they assembled for a meeting in the capital but the operation stirred a hornet’s nest and the troops began engaging Somali militiamen in urban combat. Two Black Hawk helicopters were subsequently shot down with rocket propelled grenades. The nature and dynamic of the mission rapidly changed from a lightening operation involving quick seizure and extraction to one of protracted urban combat pitting outnumbered and outgunned U.S. forces against thousands of Somali militiamen armed to the teeth with machine guns, RPGs, mortars and recoilless rifles.

Though the Rangers and Delta Force commandos ultimately prevailed, 18 soldiers were killed (some of the bodies were mutilated), 73 were wounded and a helicopter pilot was captured. Had the request for armor and air cover been granted, there is no question that the outcome of the Battle of Mogadishu would have been vastly different and U.S. casualties would have been minimal. Adding insult to injury, Aidid’s aides, captured at great cost and sacrifice, were quickly released on orders from the political echelon.

Bill Clinton should have resigned but instead passed the buck to his loyal secretary of defense, Les Aspin, who resigned in disgrace a few months later. Bill Clinton never served in the military, never went to military school and had no concept of what it means to be a soldier and send men to battle to fight and die. Clinton was and still is a power hungry, political opportunist and nothing more. His inexcusable actions, in denying our service members the best equipment, cost lives.

Fast forward 23 years. With her husband’s backing, Hillary Clinton now seeks the same office previously occupied by her husband. Like her husband, Hillary is a political opportunist with an insatiable lust for power. Her only foreign policy “achievement” was to transform Libya into an ISIS/al-Qaida haven through short-sighted and irresponsible interventionist policies.

Hillary also shares a more ominous resemblance to her husband. Her complacency and sheer incompetence on the days leading up to September 11, 2012, needlessly cost the lives of four American heroes, including J. Christopher Stevens, the first U.S. Ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.

The Islamist assault on the U.S. consulate office in Benghazi on the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks was meticulously planned and well-coordinated. Requests for beefing up security at the site were either ignored or denied by Hillary’s State Department. An additional contingent of U.S. military personnel or private military contractors could have meant the difference between life and death.

Despite Clinton’s best efforts to stage-manage the Benghazi hearings (as emails from the Clinton camp suggest), the Select Committee on Benghazi released a damning report that reflected poorly on the former secretary of state’s actions before, during and after the September 11, attack. Poor intelligence and needless bureaucratic bungling prevented rapid deployment of forces to the theater.

But it was Clinton’s web of lies, spun after the Benghazi assault, that truly highlight the wretchedness of this person. As countless emails reveal, Clinton was well aware that the consulate attack was premeditated and the work of trained Muslim terrorists. But that did not reconcile well with the narrative her boss was attempting to peddle to the American people – chiefly that al-Qaida was on the run and America was winning the war on terror. So instead, she along with Ben Rhodes and Susan Rice concocted a story about how an obscure YouTube video about Mohammed was responsible for the cold-blooded murder of four Americans. Clinton though, went one step further than the other Obama stooges. She told this lie not only to the American people but also directly to the family members of the victims of the attack.

Clinton is a serial fabricator who maintains a sociopathic-like lack of empathy for anyone or anything that stands in her way. That includes the families of the victims of Benghazi.  Like her husband, Hillary Clinton’s fateful decisions cost American lives and like her husband, she shirked responsibility and failed to own up to her faults.

A recent NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll suggests that Trump leads Clinton by a whopping 19 points among current and former members of the U.S. military. That group understands what it means to be Commander-in-Chief. It requires character, honesty and a proven track record of getting the job done. These traits and characteristics are sorely lacking in Hillary Clinton.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.