U.S. Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis recently articulated a shift in U.S. military strategy that calls for the total eradication of ISIS.
It would be an understatement to say that ineffective foreign policy and military engagement turned America’s War on Terror into a quagmire. But under the Trump administration’s new leadership, this trend is likely to change.
Enter Gen. Mattis, the most revered Marine of a generation known for pithy and forthright sayings such as “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
Mattis, who professes going into battle with a joyful heart, has implemented perhaps the most brutal and unprecedented strategy in American military history . . . total “annihilation.”
When President Donald Trump took office, he tapped his military leaders to develop a strategy for winning the war against ISIS and other radical Middle East insurgents. The White House refuses to discuss strategy with the media, saying they don’t want the enemy to know what’s coming, amidst criticisms of the previous administration’s free flowing information. But the American public has learned drips and drabs about how the U.S. military works these days.
After the dropping of M.O.A.B. (Mother of All Bombs) on a large Al Qaeda outpost, the public discovered that Trump does not require executive pre-approval of strikes. Generals and other military leaders have a free hand to engage the enemy in real time with tactics they deem effective. That is a major shift from the Obama Administration and one that has elevated troop morale. Basically, soldiers’ hands have been untied and the gloves are off.
That focus may be why U.S.-led coalition forces have been advancing swiftly on ISIS, and are retaking Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, from the insurgents in door-to-door combat. But when Gen. Mattis hit the talk shows and doled out media interviews, his articulation of “annihilation” may have been mistaken as just another quotable moment.
What Does Annihilation Really Mean?
As a military strategy, annihilation ranks among the most extreme measures. It involves surrounding the enemy and not allowing them to retreat, creating a fight-to-the-death scenario.
“We have already shifted from attrition tactics where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them,” Mattis reportedly said. “Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”
Throughout the history of warfare, the military goal has generally been to drive out an opposing force or seize and occupy lands. ISIS seized lands in its self-proclaimed caliphate and the Obama-led strategy was to drive them out in a conventional fashion. But combating an insurgent force that utilizes guerilla tactics allowed them to repeatedly regroup.
Of all nations, the United States should understand this strategy – it’s precisely how the country came to exist. The American patriots unseated the British using guerilla tactics in addition to attrition.
Listening to Gen. Mattis’ recent statements, annihilation appears to be the head-on directive.
“We should try to shut down its recruiting, shut down its finances, and then work to fight battles of annihilation — not attrition, but annihilation — against them; so that the first time they meet the forces that we put against them, there should basically be no survivors,” he reportedly said.
The Annihilation Effect
If you’ve ever seen a Western movie where they trap outlaws in a building, surround them and burn them out, that’s a good touchstone for annihilation as a military strategy. That’s basically what Gen. Mattis is talking about and possibly the first viable step toward ending the War on Terror.
Military leaders rarely employ annihilation as a strategy because the enemy finds themselves backed into a corner. Just like in the old westerns, the only counter to being surrounded is to shoot your way out. Insurgent forces understand they are left with two options: win or die trying. That creates the fiercest combat situation and can lead to high coalition casualties.
Unfortunately, the worldwide spread of murder plots against innocents has taken surrender off the table. For all practical purposes, Mad Dog Mattis has declared “it all ends now.”
~ Conservative Zone