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Hard Lessons from America’s Longest Wars

Posted by James Kitfield on


This is one of two pieces by our contributor James Kitfield, who’s won more Gerald Ford Defense Reporting awards than anyone else (3), on the challenges and mistakes America has made in grappling with the complex threat of global terrorism. As James puts it in his summary sentence: U.S. counterterrorism forces continue to learn and adapt… Keep reading →

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As Daesh Is Crushed, Future Of Middle East At Stake

Posted by Yaakov Amidror on


The future of the Middle East is currently being determined, in a process that is almost entirely hidden from view. In recent weeks, the gaze of the world has been fixed on the fight against Daesh (aka ISIL), as the end of its occupation in Mosul, Iraq, and the breaching of its defenses in Raqqa,… Keep reading →

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After Mosul: Iraq’s Arab Neighbors Must Help Rebuild

Posted by Daniel DePetris on


On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, pulling on the same black uniform and jacket that Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces wore throughout the battle for Mosul, declared the final liberation of the city from Daesh’s (aka ISIL) control. “I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state… Keep reading →

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Will Daesh 3.0 Rise From Mosul’s Ashes?

Posted by James Kitfield on


They’re surrounded, targeted by constant bombardments and slowly strangled of supplies and reinforcements for months so fighters for Daesh (aka ISIS) might reasonably have abandoned Mosul and tried to slink off into the night. That’s what happened last June in the battle to recapture Fallujah, when Daesh fighters were relatively quickly routed, and hundreds were killed by U.S.… Keep reading →

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Sorry, President Trump: Islamic State Can’t Be ‘Quickly Defeated’

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


WASHINGTON: Donald Trump wants “a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS.” But Kimberly Kagan, a leading advocate of the troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan, warns that, this time round, “we need to recognize there are limits on how fast we can accelerate.” Part of the reason is tactical, Kagan told the DefenseOne Summit… Keep reading →

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Ash Carter Walks Tightrope On Trump Transition

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


WASHINGTON: There’s still no sign of Donald Trump’s transition team at the Pentagon yet, but they’ll probably come this week, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said this morning. In the meantime, the secretary is walking a tightrope trying to defend his policies on the Islamic State, NATO, and Russia without explicitly disagreeing with a President-elect who… Keep reading →

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How To Stop Islamic State’s Escalation Dominance

Posted by James Kitfield on


While President Barack Obama’s declared both that the U.S. is hitting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria “harder than ever” and that progress in the campaign to degrade and defeat the group “needs to keep coming faster,” he revealed clearly that the administration is in a race against time. American officials believed that their anti-ISIL… Keep reading →

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Iraq: US-Trained Units Lead Counterattack On Islamic State

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


PENTAGON: Newly created, US-trained units are leading the Iraqi Army counteroffensive against the Islamic State, officers of the 82nd Airborne Division said this morning. Yes, the recapture of Ramadi is moving slowly, acknowledged Col. Curtis Buzzard and Maj. Michael Hamilton, but at least it is moving, and the Iraqi troops they mentored are not only… Keep reading →

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Trench Warfare With Wings: Can ISIL Airstrikes Go Beyond Attrition?

Posted by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on


Airpower sounds swift and surgical, but sometimes it’s really closer to trench warfare with wings. Earlier this week, with the smoke still rising from the retaken Iraqi city of Tikrit, Central Command released detailed data on air strikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. We’ve crunched the numbers, and it’s clear the eight-month-old campaign is becoming… Keep reading →

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A Calibrated Response To ISIL

Posted by Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake on


The ISIL-induced crisis in the Middle East is a major one with regional implications. With several years of dynamic change in the region, and the failure to create a stable Iraq during the period after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, ISIL has functioned like a match thrown into a gas can. What  should we do? We… Keep reading →

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