President Donald Trump’s administration has urged U.S. military commanders to make more battlefield decisions on their own. The move is aimed at stepping up the fight against Islamist extremism. The White House will be busy working on a broad strategy. Meanwhile, the America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
The commanders will be expected to destroy Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan and Somalia.
Military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump.
The commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed. However, they have been cautioned to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.
The muscular military approach is expanding as the Trump administration debates a comprehensive new strategy to defeat Islamic State. Mr. Mattis has sketched out such a global plan, but the administration has yet to agree on it.
As the political debate continues, the military is being encouraged to take more aggressive steps against Islamic extremists around the world. The firm stance has fuelled growing concerns among State Department officials working on Middle East policy that the Trump administration is giving short shrift to the diplomatic tools the Obama administration favored.
Some State Department officials claim that removing the carrot from the traditional carrot-and-stick approach could hamper the pursuit of long-term strategies needed to prevent volatile conflicts from reigniting once the shooting stops.
Afghanistan was a good example of this approach where General John Nicholson, head of the U.S.-led coalition, decided to use one of the military’s biggest non-nuclear bomb which is a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, to hit a remote Islamic State underground network of tunnels and caves.
Mr. Trump made a statement on Thursday emphasizing the free rein that he has given the Pentagon. Trump said that he authorizes his military, adding that he has given them total authorization.
The U.S. military said it has sent dozens of soldiers to Somalia, where Mr. Trump recently gave the head of the U.S. Africa Command more leeway to carry out counter-terrorism operations against al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in the area. By using the more aggressive military approach against Islamic State, Trump’s administration is realizing results.
ISIS is on the back foot in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and is facing a hard battle to defend its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa. Trump’s administration has sent more forces into Iraq and Syria.