The War on ISIS By Jasmine Huff

What is ISIS?

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, is one of the most well-known terrorist groups in the Middle East. Their leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who ISIS folllowers believe to be the prophesied redeemer of Islam. They were originally a part of al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization previously led by Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was responsible for the attacks on the twin towers in New York City, on September 1, 2001. The Islamic State separated itself as its own group, and are known for killing dozens of people at a time, crucifying, and publicly executing and beheading prisoners and "unbelievers." From a previous 33,000 fighters in 2015, ISIS has an approximate 18,000 to 22,000 fighters today (Feinstein). They use online propaganda on encrypted websites to recruit followers all over the world. Lone wolf attackers are inspired to carry out attacks in large cities such as the bombings in Brussels, Belgium in 2016, and the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida in 2016. Many other attacks have been linked to perpetrators who are suspected to be involved with ISIS. The Islamic State currently controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, and have multiple loyalist groups in Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. The city of Mosul, Iraq, is where most of ISIS is currently located.

Top: ISIS about to behead their prisoners; Bottom Left: Part of ISIS's army; Bottom Right: ISIS's leader

Today's Military Tactics Are Not Enough

Although many people claim that going to war with ISIS would be long and costly, the U.S. should send ground troops to fight ISIS because airstrikes are not effective enough to stop the spread of of the Islamic State. Pentagon and military officials have said that additional forces will need to be sent to Iraq and Syria to fight the Islamic State. They have even stated that Iraqi soldiers could be trained by Americans in Special Forces. This would be beneficial to help strengthen the force against ISIS, while adding in numbers as well. Airstrikes are not aiding the fight against the Islamic State, and there has not been much improvement in lowering ISIS's numbers.

Out of the twenty-seven American NATO allies, only seven have joined in the attack against the Islamic State. NATO allies could contribute special-operations forces, attack aircraft, and surveillance assets to help multiply the effect the military has today (Feinstein). Many people believe a NATO rapid reaction force against ISIS would make a major impact. While this strategy may not get rid of terrorism altogether, it would help stabilize the Middle East and make Americans safer at home.

What is desperately needed is "a clear set of objectives for combating those who pose a threat to our national security" ("Authorize Force Against ISIS," 2016). The U.S. government needs to set a clear vision and goal of what to do next in the ongoing battle against ISIS. Even though Congress has not spoken out about this situation, not all members of the government are silent. Former President Obama said in his last State of the Union address, "If this Congress is serious about wining this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, authorize the use of military force against ISIL" ("Authorize Force Against ISIS," 2016). America's president does not have the authority to declare war, Congress does, so it is not only the government's job to push this message forward, but the American people's as well.

Top Left: Orlando shooting; Top Right: Brussels attacks; Bottom Left: Paris attacks; Bottom Right: Areas controlled by ISIS

More Strength Could Lead to Greater Chaos

Although there is proof that the approaches used in the U.S. military are not efficient enough to defeat the Islamic State, many people argue that America’s old military strategies need to be updated and not so destructive in order to restore stability to the Middle East. Americans do not want another prolonged Middle Eastern War, and violent military action from the U.S. will not solve anything in defeating and eradicating the Islamic State. The United States has been performing many of the same actions time and time again, while still expecting different results after every attempt. Obama's administration has said that more military action could lead to greater chaos; committing the U.S. into a deeper role in yet another Middle Eastern War. Promoting agents of change and urging the government to step up to their constitutional duties would be the most ideal, and less harmful way to aid the war on ISIS.

What Should We Do?

ISIS is not a peaceful group. They stop at nothing to eradicate all non-believers, and harm and destroy innocent citizens and their families. Urging the government to step up their role may help, but it will not be efficient enough in order to erase the existence of ISIS altogether at the rapid rate they are taking control of nations. Put the word out there that, while another war may not be ideal, sending more troops is the safest way to protect our country and the countries around us.

Above: Special Operations soldier

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