WASHINGTON, January 12, 2018: In March of 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters that President Obama made clear to his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, that he wanted ISIS terrorists defeated “as soon as possible. I’d like to not leave this [the war on ISIS] to my successor.”
In 2014, ISIS terrorists controlled roughly 17,500 square miles of territory in Syria and Iraq, with a United Nations report saying the terror group held 3,500 people in slavery.
This was shortly after Obama downplayed the importance of ISIS to the New Yorker magazine, dubbing the terrorist organization a “JV Team.”
When Obama left office in 2017, ISIS was firmly entrenched in Syria and elsewhere and inspiring acts of terror from Paris to New York City. The FBI admitted that 1,000 ISIS-related investigations were underway across the United States.
In September of 2016, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump pledged to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” and “utterly destroy” them.
The Washington Post was skeptical, blustering:
“For more than a year, Trump has declined to lay out a coherent strategy for doing so. Whenever pressed for specifics, Trump insists that he has a plan but says it must remain secret to avoid tipping off the enemy.”
Democratic rival Hillary Clinton even claimed Trump’s disparaging comments concerning “radical Islam” were helping groups like ISIS “recruit fighters.”
But less than a year after President Trump took the oath of office, ISIS territory has dropped from 17,500 square miles to 1,900, and their forces have dwindled from 35,000 fighters to 1,000.
At the Pentagon, Army Command Sergeant Major John Wayne Troxell expressed via Facebook the change in U.S. military policy under Trump in a statement to ISIS fighters:
“ISIS needs to understand that the Joint Force is on orders to annihilate them. So, they have two options, should they decide to come up against the United States, our allies and partners: surrender or die!
“If they surrender, we will safeguard them to their detainee facility cell, provide them chow, a cot and due process.
“HOWEVER, if they choose not to surrender, then we will kill them with extreme prejudice, whether that be through security force assistance, by dropping bombs on them, shooting them in the face, or beating them to death with our entrenching tools.
“Regardless, they cannot win, so they need to choose how it’s going to be.”
Instead of micromanaging the war on ISIS terrorists and getting nowhere, à la Barack Obama, President Trump has seen fit to leave the war planning to his generals and U.S. Army Sergeant Majors like John Wayne Troxell.
It’s encouraging that when our officers and warfighters are permitted to do what they are trained to do, America’s armed forces appear to be fully able to dispatch ISIS fighters faster than their new Commander-in-Chief’s condemnations of radical Islam can help ISIS to recruit them.