WASHINGTON — A new military strategy to meet uS President Donald Trump’s demand to “obliterate” the Islamic State group is likely to deepen US military involvement in Syria, possibly with more ground troops, even as the current US approach in Iraq appears to be working and will require fewer changes.
Details are sketchy. But recommendations due at the White House on Monday are likely to increase emphasis on nonmilitary elements of the campaign already underway, such as efforts to squeeze IS finances, limit the group’s recruiting and counter IS propaganda that is credited with inspiring recent violence in the US and Europe.
One official with knowledge of the recommendations says the report would present a broad overview of options as a starting point for a more detailed internal discussion.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is giving the White House the ingredients of a strategy, which officials say will be fleshed out once Trump has considered the options. Officials described the Mattis report as a “framework” built on broad concepts and based on advice from the State Department, the CIA and other agencies. Officials have indicated the recommended approaches will echo central elements of the Obama administration’s strategy, which was based on the idea that the US military should support local forces rather than do the fighting for them.
Trump signed an executive order on January 28 giving Mattis 30 days to present a “preliminary draft” of a plan. He said it should include a comprehensive strategy that would not only deliver a battlefield victory but also “isolate and delegitimize” the group and its radical ideology.