Pushing back on criticism of the US military strategy to counter the ISIS terror group, Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said the Pentagon and US Central Command have strategic guidance, but it is shifting as the conflict evolves. When taking action against a non-state actor, like ISIS, military strength and technology are not as important as the “rate of innovation,” said Dempsey at a defense conference in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 19. The military strategy is outlined in a 10-page document from the National Security Council and a large planning document from US Central Command headquarters at MacDill AFB, Fla., he said. “We have a strategy,” said Dempsey. “But it’s going to change and it’s going to change often. I’m not obsessing about what’s in the middle because it’s going to change,” he explained. He added there are 190 military planners at CENTCOM currently from 30 countries who are working on the anti-ISIS campaign. He said he’s been pleasantly surprised with the level of involvement of several US allies from the Persian Gulf and other parts of the Middle East. The military strategy today is “Iraq first, but not only Iraq,” said Dempsey, because Iraq is the US’ “credible partner” in the region, which can provide structure for an increase of governance and security. At present, some of the conditions in Iraq are not yet set in Syria, he added, but this could change with time. (See also Tactical Success More Evident Against ISIS.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.