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Fighting On All Fronts: A Critical Review Of The US Strategy Against ISIL

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Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016

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U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth

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The current US counter-ISIL strategy from the White House is to degrade and destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria. This strategy is a military focused strategy that fails to account for the deep complexity involved in the region, of which ISIL is only a part. In effect, only the symptom of a problem is being addressed instead of the getting at the core of the problem. Looking at ISIL through the lens of complexity makes it clear that military intervention should only be part of a much broader, more comprehensive, whole of government approach to address the root causes of ISIL, such as political and security vacuums, as well as radical Islamic extremism. As part of a comprehensive and long-term approach, the United States should also be looking at ways to discredit the ISIL narrative while providing viable alternatives. These changes will require strategic patience and many will be generational shifts. Finally, the use of information operations and strategic communications to effectively engage adversaries in the information environment is key now in the fight against ISIL. More importantly, it will shape how the United States engages in future conflicts with near peer competitors who have already exercised these tradecrafts and have woven them into all aspects of their national strategy.

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