WASHINGTON: While Gen. “Fighting Joe” Dunford didn’t discuss the new anti-Daesh strategy in detail today, he laid out the goal during a discussion today at the Brookings Institution: “working in combination with local forces and coalition forces, drive the threat down to the level where local law enforcement, security forces can deal with that threat and therefore, first and foremost, it’s incapable of planning operations against the United States.”
It doesn’t answer the tactical questions such as whether United States troops will roll into Syria (beyond the light footprint of Special Operations forces working there now). It doesn’t answer the question of whether some of the Kurds will assist as the anti-Daesh coalition drives in. Or how closely we’ll work with Turkish forces to pummel Daesh (aka ISIL). Or what we’ll do should Iranian forces or their proxies take part.
While those are all key issues we need to address, they aren’t the end goal. Dunford outlined that goal. It could be read as a bit shy of Trump’s avowed goal of “defeating” Daesh, but you cannot kill or capture everyone who might support Daesh, so it almost certainly will morph orinto something new.
One of the reassuring things Dunford mentioned was the “whole of government” approach to drafting the new strategy required by President Donald Trump’s executive order. The Jan. 28 order told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to come up with a strategy within 30 days to defeat Daesh, and the Pentagon says the strategy will come out on time. Dunford said the State and Commerce Departments, the Intelligence Community and all other relevant agencies were integrated into the development of options now.
On Russia, Dunford said his meeting last week with his Russian counterpart was not a sign of US military “cooperation” with Vladimir Putin’s state but a targeted effort to ensure the two militaries make as few mistakes as humanly possible. They will meet again later this year to ensure we can “deal with those incidents we feel are unacceptable.”
Best line of the event? Michael O’Hanlon asked him about the “Fighting Joe” sobriquet and whether President Trump used it. Dunford’s response: “The only person I’ve heard use that expression is my wife.”