ISIS: Pentagon, Trump to change tactics

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ISIS fighters

The Pentagon will this week present the White House with options for accelerating the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the first step toward President Trump’s campaign pledge to change the current strategy and crush the global terror group.

Instead of a major overhaul, military leaders will likely recommend adjustments that could expand bombings and quicken the pace of ground operations, several analysts said.

The Pentagon will likely stick with its current policy of backing local forces to lead the fight against the militants in Iraq and Syria.

Trump has voiced skepticism about sending conventional American troops to the region.

“That doesn’t change,” said Michael Rubin, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.

The new proposal will probably amount to a “supersizing” of the Obama administration’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State, said Jennifer Cafarella, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

Pentagon officials have declined to discuss details of the plan before it is presented to the White House.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said only that it will include “options” for the president to consider.

Last month, Trump gave the Pentagon and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat the Islamic State.

On the campaign trail he repeatedly criticised the Obama administration for its inability to stop the militant group.

The Pentagon might recommend a number of strategy adjustments that would intensify the battle against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

For example, the Pentagon could make the current rules of engagement less restrictive and perhaps find ways to boost support for local ground forces in Iraq and Syria, according to the analysts.

Approval for some airstrikes can take weeks under the current process. And the Obama administration’s rules on limiting civilian casualties went beyond what is required by international law, Cafarella said.

Trump “is not going to worry quite as much as about collateral damage,” Rubin said.

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