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.