By Sal Bommarito
Preamble: A decision to send ground troops into battle is an epic decision for any president. Over the years, American commanders-in-chief made decisions to go to war in the name of freedom and to fight tyranny.
Any suggestions made herein are offered with the proviso that the deployment of American ground forces in Iraq and Syria will result in U.S. casualties and collateral damage, things that cannot not be taken lightly. Some have commented that Americans are not prepared to face the possibility that body bags will arrive from the Middle East. I totally respect and understand this perspective.
But, the price of liberty is high. If the unfortunate deaths of our brave soldiers decreases the chances that thousands will be murdered and tortured, I can live with a tactic to deploy troops.
Exactly, what would happen in an all-out assault by the U.S. against ISIS in Iraq. I suspect the most violent aspects of a confrontations would be brief as they have been in past encounters in the region (I’m not suggesting that nation-building projects are short-term). The long-term implications of such an action would be a different story.
If the U.S. employed a combination of massive bombing operations coupled with a large ground incursion, ISIS would be helpless. There is no way that the insurgents could survive an aggressive American assault with superior weaponry. The main problems would include enemy landmines, booby traps and suicide bombers, all of which can exact only minor damage.
It is likely that the retaking of Mosul, the supposed capital of the Islamic State, would be the end of major fighting. Subsequent mop-up operations around the countryside would be fraught with danger, but nothing that would hamper U.S. power. I have no inside information on the logistics but doubt the entire effort would last more than a few weeks.
The really important work begins after the assault is ended. Many Arabs would resent yet another U.S. invasion in the Middle East. But, this one would be different than previous Iraqi and Afghanistan experiences. Once the hostilities have been concluded, U.S. forces will shore up security with the Iraqi government and depart.
The reaction of Iraqi Sunnis will determine whether the country will segue into the next phase, an all-out civil war pitting Shiites against Sunnis for the control of the country and its resources. The latter will be hard pressed looking for a seat at the negotiating table for the formation of a lasting government. It is doubtful the transition will occur without violence. But, this should not be America’s problem.
The importance of finally destroying ISIS cannot be overstated. It is in America’s interest to rid the Middle East of these murderers. The price on the battlefield is worth it in my opinion. These actions will hopefully ensure that the ISIS threat does not spread any further outside of the Middle East.