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Defeating ISIS by Winning the War of Ideas

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Technical Report

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Air Command And Staff College Maxwell AFB United States

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The United States and its coalition partners have struggled to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS. After spending 11 billion executing almost three years of U.S. military operations against ISIS, the violent extremist organization continues to successfully drive effective attacks in Iraq, Syria, and the rest of the world. Specifically, and most importantly to its cause, ISIS continues to galvanize recruits and inspire lone wolf attacks. ISIS is able to recruit and inspire because it effectively convinces war-torn citizens, marginalized Muslims, and other solidarity seekers that its ideas and cause are just. Its ideas enables its fight. As such, defeating ISIS means defeating their ideas, especially in the eyes of vulnerable target audiences. However, what does defeating ISIS mean For this argument, the end state is eliminating ISISs ability to radicalize and inspire attacks around the world, supported by the Islamic Military Alliance conquering ISISs held territory. Complete eradication of ISIS is not the goal, there will always be individuals who cling to the radical jihadist cause, but defeating ISIS means individuals ignore this call instead of rushing to support it. While the military success is possible in the near term, the recommended solution provided may take 10 years, possibly longer, to achieve the desired end state. Securing allies and coordinating a moderate message is no easy task, and the radical ideology has a few hundred years head start.

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  • Unconventional Warfare

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