By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2015 – Though U.S. and coalition airstrikes are destroying facilities and equipment controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the terrorist group ultimately will fail because the people it’s trying to control will reject its ideology, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in an interview broadcast today.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey noted that the new Iraqi government is reaching out to Iraq’s Sunni tribes and has made inroads in the strategic effort against ISIL.
“A group that embraces such a radical ideology has to maintain momentum in order to succeed, in order to maintain its credibility with the very people it's trying to influence,” Dempsey said.
ISIL’s Fate is Inevitable
Tactically, U.S. and allies forces have destroyed ISIL equipment, reversed some of its territorial gains and affected the terror group’s leadership, command and control and logistics, the chairman noted. But the fate of the terrorist regime is inevitable, he added, simply because people won’t accept it.
“It will collapse under its own contradictions, frankly, when the populations in which it tries to maneuver realize that ideology is not to their future benefit,” Dempsey said.
Though military efforts get the most attention, the chairman said, strides other areas such as in countering ISIL’s financing and messaging may be more important in thwarting the organization, Dempsey noted.
Campaign in Iraq Will Take Time
The campaign in Iraq will take time, Dempsey said, pointing out that U.S. and coalition forces are enabling the Iraqi government’s strategy. “It's not our strategy,” he said. “And I'm telling you, that is an extraordinarily important distinction.”
Before it can mount its own offensive against ISIL, the chairman explained, the Iraqi government, with the help of trainers and advisors, must accumulate the appropriate level of force and have it followed by reconstruction and humanitarian relief so the government is providing real governance and not simply security. This, he added, could take months.
Syrian Opposition Under Pressure
Meanwhile, in Syria, the opposition to Bashar Assad’s regime is under “enormous pressure,” particularly in the north, Dempsey, said. That region brings the greatest concern in regard to the ability to attract, recruit and vet a moderate opposition, he added.
“And Iraq, because we have a credible partner there, is the most important thing for us right now,” Dempsey said, “while maintaining pressure through disruptive airstrikes inside of what was a safe haven in Syria.
“As that issue evolves in Iraq, we will then adapt the campaign,” he continued. “And in the meantime, we're trying to build a credible partner on the ground in Syria … to take advantage of airstrikes should we ever turn our attention elsewhere. So it's really about a bit of choreography to get this right and not find ourselves potentially doing more harm if we create vacuums and voids and greater instability in the region.”