ISIS and ‘White House aides micromanaging military operations’ concerns House Armed Services Chairman

Complaints of “White House aides micromanaging military operations” were repeated by the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee yesterday in his opening remarks on the panel discussion on “U.S. Strategy for Syria and Iraq and its Implications for the Region,” and the subject is one of concern for many people.

As news media gives more time to cover threats and events of terrorism and the group called ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, we learn that Pope Francis has become a target as well. (See FoxLatino report regarding Police in Italy and Kosovo detaining “… four Kosovars with Islamic State contacts Tuesday for making threats against the pope and a U.S. diplomat.”) This Pope has previously condemned the killing of Christians by ISIS (See BreitbartNews article for this information) and this discussion on politics, military and possible “micromanaging” is troubling.

WH ‘micromanaging military operations’

Telling Defense Secretary Ashton Carter that “all three of your Obama Administration predecessors have complained openly about White House aides micromanaging military operations,” Representative Mac Thornberry, Chairman then said in his opening remarks that “I  myself have heard from service members in the field about such instances which would have been unthinkable at any other time in history.”

Congressman Thornberry looked forward to hearing from both Secretary Carter as well as General Joseph F. Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he stated. “The Committee meets today to hear testimony from the Secretary and the Chairman on our strategy against ISIS and the implications for the Middle East.  Today is the first hearing we have had with Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford together in their current roles, and I think it is appropriate that it be on this topic which is foremost on the minds of the American people.  Thank you both for being here.”

ISIS requires ‘greater effort’

Thornberry stated there seemed to be “widespread consensus on at least three points” since the Paris attacks by ISIS.” He listed first that “ISIS presents a significant threat to the United States,” and the next point was that the “approach we have used to degrade and destroy ISIS is inadequate to meet the threat.” His third point was that a “different approach” and a “greater effort is required” making reference to decisions to “use half-measures” against them.

See Chairman Thornberry’s link here.

Last October, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, (see Senator Thom Tillis link), questioned Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford on “whether they were consulted by President Obama before his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016.” In reply, General Dunford said he was not consulted by President Barack Obama while Secretary Carter answered that he was consulted and he did in fact support that veto.

Senator Tillis believes, as he stated in that link to his website, “… it is clear to me this Administration is not willing to confront the challenges our men and women in uniform face today. Taking a step back in these times just does not make sense.” 
U.S. soldier Joshua Wheeler
The case of Master Sargent Joshua Wheeler came up in that previous discussion last October. Wheeler was killed in a raid to rescue 70 hostages from ISIS in Iraq on October 22, 2015, and Senator Tillis then stated “Secretary Carter, you testified that in that particular operation, those are the operations that are happening frequently where American soldiers are at risk. I would consider that as a combat operation.” Secretary Carter replied that Wheeler was “indeed in combat at the time of his death.”

Wheeler has become “the first American to die in the war against ISIS,” per the Senator, who also believes that Secretary Carter and the Obama Administration, in “an effort to comport with President Obama’s vow to keep U.S. troops out of combat in Iraq,” were previously hesitating to call Wheeler’s death a combat death.

Søren Kierkegaard and understanding ISIS

David Ignatius, reporting on ISIS in an article available at theAtlantic recently, quoted a journal entry made in 1843 by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. “It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition: that it must be lived forwards.”

Ignatius, who believes that we have perhaps “… been living the Islamic State forwards, surprised at every turn, but we can perhaps begin to understand it backwards. Although ISIS took most of the world by surprise when it swept into the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014, the group and its forebears had been proclaiming their goals for a decade. Like many consequential events, this one didn’t sneak up on policymakers; they simply didn’t see what was taking shape in front of them. ISIS told us exactly what it was going to do, and then did it. This was a secret conspiracy hiding in plain sight.”

And Senator Thornberry quoted Ignatius’ other idea.  That maybe “…the halfway measures taken by the U.S. thus far have only helped the jihadists.” He asked Secretary Carter and General Dunford not to give them a repeat of “White House talking points, but to give us your best professional and military judgments on what is required to actually degrade and defeat this enemy and to protect our people.”