According to Yahoo News and ABC News' "Top Line," retired Army Lt. Col. John Nagl USA literally helped write the book on counterinsurgency field strategy for the US Army and US Marine Corps during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yet, for all the lessons that the US military has learned through the wars of the 21st Century, Nagl said President Obama’s strategy to defeat IS (Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria without any ground forces will "never work."
“It clearly isn't working,” Nagl told ABC News' “Top Line” in an interview. “We do have about 1,600 American troops on the ground, but they're staying well back from the front lines. That's a big part of the reason why the Iraqi forces are not able to take on and really defeat the IS forces.”
Though Nagl said he understands President Obama’s reluctance to commit combat troops at a time when the American people are war-weary, he said the mission of defeating IS can’t be accomplished without 15,000-20,000 US ground forces.
“IS is really, really bad, is a real evil, and ultimately is a threat to the stability of the Middle East and to the United States,” Nagl said.
“The president has an important role in speaking to the American people and explaining to them what the threat is, what our strategy is, and critically that he is committed to success even if it takes boots on the ground-- nd it's that last part where I think he's been lacking.”
Nagl, who said he believes the current situation in Iraq could have been avoided had the US not pulled out its military presence several years ago, warned that Afghanistan is at risk of a similar crisis if the US withdraws all forces from that country, as currently planned, by 2017.
“I think that that is a disaster,” he said. “Afghanistan is not going to be ready to stand on its own this decade, and leaving behind a residual force, and again, 15,000 American combat advisors to embed inside Afghan units, to provide access to intelligence, provide access to logistics, without that kind of American leverage, those kind of American advisors, the Taliban is going to be at the gates of Kabul just as currently ISIS is at the gates of Baghdad.”
The insurgencies in the Middle East are just one of many predicaments that Nagl predicts the U.S. military will need to confront in the years to come.
In his new book, Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice, Lt.Col. Nagl lays out why he believes the future of warfare will be characterized less by traditional combat and more by long-term, ambiguous struggles, such as insurgencies, climate change, and contagions.
The current fight against Ebola provides a “particularly frightening” example, he said.
“I think what we're going to see is the Pentagon dealing with the effects of climate change, population pressures, weak governments unable to secure their populations,” he said. “And so we need a military that is broader, that still maintains its core competency in state-on-state, tank-on-tank kind of warfare. But I think that 90% of the time, what they're going to be doing is messy, slow knife fights.”
For more of the interview with Nagl, including whether he believes Obama or Bush did a better job handling counterinsurgency fights, check out this episode of ABC News' “Top Line.”
COMMENT: I don't necessarily subscribe to all of Lt.Col. Nagl's forecast vis-à-vis the US military of the future, yet he is "spot-on" in terms of the imminent need for a significant deployment of US ground forces in Iraq and even potentially in Syria.
As much as President Obama insists that US troops in large numbers will never be deployed in Iraq, he may not be the driving force behind such a reality, particularly if attacks on citizens of developed nations continue to occur.
Although President Obama may have a belief system that he runs everything on Earth, the one factor he cannot control is the perception of freedom by the world's democracies.
No force is stronger than those citizens who demand and expect the freedom of choice.
Directly related to the above statements is the Obama Administration's belief system that it will cut the US military back to pre-World War II levels, at a time when radicalized Muslims worldwide have reportedly declared "open- season" on democracies worldwide.
This is a learning moment that mandates US Congressional "buy-in" and authorization to take immediate and proactive action against all radicalized Muslims wherever they attack global democracies.
Like it or not, the goals of IS, al-Qaeda, et. al. is to convert the world to radicalized Islam which is a perverted version of traditional Islam.
As many of our readers will recall, I re-offer the below link on a review I presented on May 10, 2014:
Anyone who values the lifestyle and democratic openness they currently enjoy are urged to read this pivotal, thought-provoking book.