Defeating the Islamic State at Three Levels of War
Joint Military Operations Department Newport United States
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The Islamic State IS continues to be weakened at the operational level in Syria and Iraq. To remain legitimate, the insurgency is shifting its strategy to pursue its objectives at the national-strategic N-S and theater-strategic T-S levels of war. IS is expanding throughout the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Southeast Asia while using terrorism to attack the West. In order to fulfill the Presidents end state of ultimately defeating IS, U.S. and coalition forces must not only continue to apply pressure at the operational level but also include a concept that attacks the insurgency at the N-S and T-S levels of war. This paper uses operational art and the Joint Operation Planning Process JOPP to identify and examine IS objective, desired end state, and center of gravity COG at each level of war. The current fight must attack at all three levels. This paper concludes with recommendations to aid planners in developing a concept to achieve the Presidents desired end state.