Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 11

WINNING WARS to network these provinces into a new and radical Islamic nation-state with global ambitions for conquest is evident in the materials discovered in many of these locations, which emphasize in detail the required principles for administering such a state, discussing everything from the management of public utilities and wealth distribution to organization of the training within its various camps and villages. Ominously, those materials also emphasize the continuing need for recruitment of foreign fighters in an effort to add to the approximately thirty thousand now engaged in their expansionist campaign of holy war (jihad). Those currently fighting under the IS banner have come from approximately eighty different countries— already a formidable coalition. However, in an effort to diversify and expand this force, IS has launched additional recruitment efforts in Indonesia, the Philippines, European Union states, and the Southern Caucasus. IS recruitment has even begun to creep into the very tough, security-minded state of India. Concurrently, IS has built relationships with like-minded jihadists across the globe, directing indiscriminate, vicious, and barbaric attacks in Saudi Arabia, France, the United States, Russia, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Turkey, Kuwait, and Bangladesh. IS leaders also firmly believe that the Internet is a virtual province, and they dominate it. With the above developments in mind, I strongly believe (as do many others) that this threat has metastasized far beyond a localized problem of a few thousand in only a few countries in the Middle East. It has become instead a global cancer affecting and influencing the fate and well-being of hundreds of millions of people around the world. For example, events such as the continuing forced migration of millions of refugees from the Middl e East into the heart of Europe brought on by conflict with IS should clearly demonstrate in and of itself that the actions of IS present a clear mid- and long-term threat to the cultural and political existence of the West. A Habituated State of Ennui in the Government Recently, I testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in support of Sen. John McCain’s efforts to review the Goldwater-Nichols Act thirty years after it MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 was enacted by Congress.1 Historically, the GoldwaterNichols Act helped overcome deeply embedded individual Armed Forces parochialism by forcing the Department of Defense and the military services to work together jointly under threat of sanction and penalty of law. However, much has changed since the passage of this act that calls into the question of its effectiveness and relevance to the current security situation. Important questions about our military services and their Title 10 responsibilities, the size of the Pentagon’s bureaucracy, and whether our combatant commands under Goldwater-Nichols mandates had lost sight of their true reasons for existing all came up during testimony and the question-and-answer session that followed. However, what was most disturbing to me about the testimony given and the ensuing discussion was what we did not talk about. We did not discuss winning—or more candidly—why it appears that we can no longer win. To be even more precise, one blunt and vital question did not get asked: Can we win wars anymore? On assessing such a question, let us just stick with IS, our latest and currently our most blatant inyour-face enemy. Though history tells us that there will be many other enemies in the years ahead, for now, let us focus on just one and on the prospects of beating this enemy. Islamic State as a Case Study in Whether the United States Can Still Win Wars Contrary to the pessimistic view of some pundits in academia, the government, and the media, IS is beatable. In terms of a one-for-one military matchup in armed combat, we have consistently proven that they can be beaten tactically. However, history, as well as our own painful experience with war, should demonstrate that just tactical victories on the ground are clearly not enough to win wars. The key to success is having the moral and political will to do everything necessary to beat them. But, thus far, to truly win, to steal the willingness away from the opposition and create a real sense of a victor and a vanquished—a clear winner and a loser—requires a sustained whole-of-government effort well beyond what we have been allowed to do in any conflict in which we have engaged in recent times. Strategic 9