Americans do not withdraw from difficult situations, but generally face them head on and in the end defeat them. That has been true throughout our entire history. Our greatest challenge was during the Civil War when we fought each other from the north and the south. President Lincoln tried to find a union general who would fight until he finally discovered General U.S. Grant. General Grant did not always win, but he would fight and he knew how to do it.
We are currently faced with another difficult problem in the Middle East, but unfortunately we are reading and hearing different approaches to how we will deal with it. We watched as two of our citizens were beheaded by ISIS, and our president announced that he had no strategy on how to deal with it. He implied that the military had not provided him with any possibilities. Anyone who has spent a career in the military knows that the military always has plans to deal with almost any type of contingency throughout the world, plus why would the president make such a remark.
Last week, the president gave a nationally-televised speech and outlined a type of strategy, and stated that it would not include ground troops for combat roles. It would be air power with troops from the area such as the Kurds and other forces in the area to include friendly Syrian rebels.
This Wednesday, the President spoke to troops at MacDill Air Force base and told them that he would not send any troops in a combat role back to Iraq.
General Dempsey as Chairman of the Joint Staff did not rule out recommending sending ground troops if necessary. The Chief of Staff of the Army, General Odierno, has also stated that ground troops may be needed. The latest polls show that the majority of Americans do not want ground troops back in Iraq.
I suspect that the major reason is that they have not been painted a consistent picture about the challenge and what can truly be done about it.
I do not want or expect our side to outline exactly how we will deal with this challenge, but I do expect there to be a consistent message and uplifting words.
Historically President Obama consistently delays making difficult decisions in the hopes that things will improve. As I have said in earlier articles, bad news rarely improves with time. ISIS will not disappear by itself, and I doubt that the Syrian army will be able to defeat it. I also doubt that the friendly Syrian rebels along with the Kurds and Iraqi army will be able to do it either unless we are able to give effective air support.
Effective air support must be controlled by ground controllers directing the air. None of those mentioned forces have that capability.
It is well past the time when this administration must face up to the fact that our options are not great, but we must do what is necessary to defeat this ugly enemy force. We have faced difficult times in the past and Americans generally support the country and its leaders. Our military remains the most effective and capable in the world, but they also must be given straight scoop. The troops can handle any type of bad news and any type of challenge as long as they are told the truth. The same applies to the citizens in this country.
Donald Myers is a retired Marine Colonel and regular contributor to THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org