The American Military Strategy to Combat the ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria: Assumptions, Tactics and Effectiveness
Languages of publication
The American strategy to combat the ‘Islamic State’ rests on four pillars. The first is to conduct systematic air campaigns against the terrorists. The second involves increasing support for forces fighting the jihadists on the ground. The third is based on the strengthening of international cooperation in counter–terrorism operations. The fourth involves the provision of humanitarian aid to civilians displaced from the territories occupied by the jihadists. This article analyzes the assumptions, tactics, the most important decisions and actions of the American administration to combat the ‘Islamic State’. It is an attempt to provide answers to the questions: why has there been a growth of extremism in the Middle East? Why is the ‘Islamic State’ a new form of terrorist threat? How does it differ from other terrorist organizations? How was the ‘Islamic State’ created? What actions have been taken by the international coalition led by the United States in the fight against the jihadists in the Middle East? Is the strategy taken up by the United States effective? Does the defeat of the ‘Islamic State’ require the involvement of US ground forces in Iraq and Syria?
- Ackerman, S. (2015, September 16). US has trained only ‘four or five’ Syrian fighters against Isis, top general testifies. The Guardian. Retrieved from www.theguardian.com/us–news/2015/sep/16/us–military–syrian–isis–fighters
- Alexander, Y., Alexander, D. C. (2015). The Islamic State: Combating The Caliphate Without Borders. London: Lexington Books.
- Amman, N. B. (2015, September 22). US–trained Division 30 rebels ’betray US and hand weapons over to al–Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria’. The Telegraph. Retrieved from www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11882195/US–trained–Division–30–rebels–betrayed–US–and–hand–weapons–over–to–al–Qaedas–affiliate–in–Syria.html
- Bajoria, J., Bruno, G. (2012, June 6). al–Qaeda. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from http://www.cfr.org/terrorist–organizations–and–networks/al–qaeda–k–al–qaida–al–qaida/p9126
- Barrett, R. (2014). The Islamic State. Soufan Group Report. Retrieved from
- Bearak, M. (2016, July 21). An airstrike in Syria killed entire families instead of ISIS fighters. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/07/21/an–airstrike–in–syria–killed–entire–families–instead–of–isis–fighters/
- Bieleń, S. (2009). Państwa w stanie kryzysu i upadku?. In M. Sułek, J. Symonides (Eds.). Państwo w teorii i praktyce stosunków międzynarodowych. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego.
- Blanchard, C. M., Humud, C. E. (2016). The Islamic State and U.S. Policy. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43612.pdf
- Borger, J., Hopkins, N. (2013, March 8). West training Syrian rebels in Jordan. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/08/west–training–syrian–rebels–jordan
- Callimachi, R. (2015, November 14). ISIS Claims Responsibility, Calling Paris Attacks ’First of the Storm’. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/world/europe/isis–claims–responsibility–for–paris–attacks–calling–them–miracles.html
- Chulov, M., Hawramy, F., Ackerman, S. (2014, June 12). Iraq army capitulates to Isis militants in four cities. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/11/mosul–isis–gunmen–middle–east–states
- CNN/ORC poll. (2015, December 6). CNN. Retrieved from http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2015/images/12/06/rel12d.–.obama.isis.pdf
- Collinson, S. (2015, December 7). Obama: ‘This was an act of terrorism’. CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/06/politics/obama–oval–office–address–isis–terror/
- Collinson, S. (2015, November 17). Obama unyielding on ISIS as criticism mounts after Paris attacks. CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/16/politics/obama–isis–strategy–paris–attacks/
- Cronin, A. K. (2015). ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group. Why Counterterrorism Won’t Stop the
- Latest Jihadist Threat. Foreign Affairs, 94(2), p. 87–98.
- Department of Defense. (2016). Operation Inherent Resolve. Retrieved from
- Department of Defense Memo. (2015). Judicial Watch. Retrieved from www.judicialwatch.org/wp–content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.–291–Pgs.–287–293–JW–v–DOD–and–State–14–812–DOD–Release–2015–04–10–final–version11.pdf
- Department of State. (2014). The Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. The US Department of State. Retrieved from www.state.gov/s/seci/
- Dobbins, J., Jones, S. G., Runkle, B., Mohandas, S. (2009). Occupying Iraq: A History of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Santa Monica: Rand.
- Dudkiewicz, H. (2012). Prawo międzynarodowe w kwestii państwa upadłego. In R. Kłosowicz, A. Mania (Eds.). Problem upadku państw w stosunkach międzynarodowych. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, s. 67–86.
- Farrell, T. (2014, September 23). Are the US–led air strikes in Syria legal – and what does it mean if they are not? The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11116792/Are–the–US–led–air–strikes–in–Syria–legal–and–what–does–it–mean–if–they–are–not.html
- Fernandez, A.M. (2015, November 16). Four ways to counter ISIS propaganda more effectively. Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2015/11/16/four–ways–to–counter–isis–propaganda–more–effectively/
- Gerges, F. A. (2014). ISIS and the Third Wave of Jihadism. Current History, 12, p. 339–343.
- Glenn, C. (2015, September 28). Al Qaeda v ISIS: Leaders & Structure. Wilson Center.
- Retrieved from https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/al–qaeda–v–isis–leaders–structure
- Graham–Harrison, E. (2016, July 29). Civilian death toll on the rise from American–led airstrikes against Isis. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/29/us–airstrikes–isis–death–toll
- Górak–Sosnowska, K. (2015). Jihadi cool: popkultura w służbie dżihadyzmu. Kultura–Historia–Globalizacja, 17, p. 53–68.
- Hanne, O., & Flichy de La Neuville, T. (2015). Państwo Islamskie. Geneza nowego kalifatu. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Akademickie Dialog.
- Hoff, B. (2015). Rise of Islamic State was ‘a willful decision’: Former DIA Chief Michael Flynn. Foreign Policy Journal. Retrieved from http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/08/07/rise–of–islamic–state–was–a–willful–decision–former–dia–chief–michael–flynn/
- Islamic State lost around 14 per cent of its territory in 2015. (2015, December 21). The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic–state/12063152/Islamic–State–lost–around–14–per–cent–of–its–territory–in–2015.html
- Jackson, R. (2005). Writing the war on terrorism. Language, politics and counter–terrorism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
- Karon, T. (2011, December 20). Iraq After the War: Maliki’s Attack on Sunni Leaders Suggests a Dark, Divided Future. The Time. Retrieved from http://world.time.com/2011/12/20/iraq–after–the–war–malikis–attack–on–sunni–leaders–suggests–a–dark–divided–future/
- Kłosowicz, R., Mormul, J. (2013). Pojęcie dysfunkcyjności państw – geneza i definicje. In R. Kłosowicz (Ed.). Państwa dysfunkcyjne i ich destabilizujący wpływ na stosunki międzynarodowe. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, s. 11–36.
- Lawler, P. (2012). Badania pokoju. In P. D. Williams (Ed.). Studia bezpieczeństwa. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, s. 73–87.
- Lynch, D. (2014, September 24). Syrian Minister Approves Of US Airstrikes Against Islamic State Group. International Business The Times. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/syrian–minister–approves–us–airstrikes–against–islamic–state–group–1694457
- Łoś–Nowak, T. (2006). Stosunki międzynarodowe. Teorie–systemy–uczestnicy. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego.
- Mandhai, S. (2014, July 1). Baghdadi’s vision of a new caliphate. Al Jazeera. Retrieved from www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/baghdadi–vision–new–caliphate–20147.html
- McInnis, K. J. (2015). Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State. Congressional Research Service Report, p. 1–11.
- McCoy, T. (2014, June 13). ISIS, beheadings and the success of horrifying violence. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning–mix/wp/2014/06/13/isis–beheadings–and–the–success–of–horrifying–violence/
- Michnik, W. (2014). Problem dysfunkcyjności państw w regionie Azji Południowej i Bliskiego Wschodu. Analiza wybranych przypadków Afganistanu, Pakistanu, Iraku i Jemenu. In R. Kłosowicz (Ed.). Państwa dysfunkcyjne i międzynarodowe wysiłki zmierzajace do ich naprawy. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, s. 65–101.
- Mills, C. (2016). ISIS/Daesh: the military response in Iraq and Syria. House of Commons Library. Briefing papers. Retrieved from http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06995#fullreport
- National Security Strategy. (2010). The White House. Retrieved from www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/national_security_strategy.pdf
- National Security Strategy. (2015). The White House. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2015_national_security_strategy.pdf
- Neumann, P. R. (2009). Old and New Terrorism. Late Modernity, Globalization and the Transformation of Political Violence. Cambridge: Polity.
- Obama, B. (2015, February 17). Our fight against violent extremism. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/nation/la–oe–obama–terrorism–conference–20150218–story.html
- O’Hanlon, M. E. (2005). Defense Strategy for the Post–Saddam Era. Washington: Brookings Institution Press.
- Ożarowski, R. (2012). Specyfika zmilitaryzowanego aktora niepaństwowego we współczesnych stosunkach międzynarodowych. Przypadek Hezbollahu. Przegląd Strategiczny, 1, p. 201–216.
- Pfiffner, J. P. (2010). US Blunders in Iraq: De–Baathification and Disbanding the Army. Intelligence and National Security, 25(1), s. 76–85.
- Ricks, T. E., DeYoung, K. (2007, October 15). Al–Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp–dyn/content/article/2007/10/14/AR2007101401245.htm
- Rogers, P. (2012). Terroryzm. In P. D. Williams (Ed.). Studia bezpieczeństwa. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, s. 167–180.
- Sagan, S., & Serzhanova, V. (2013). Nauka o państwie współczesnym. Warszawa: LexisNexis.
- Scarborough, R. (2016, January 6). U.S. military claims Islamic State on defensive, losing Iraqi territory. The Washington Times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jan/6/islamic–state–loses–40–percent–its–iraqi–territory/
- Security Council. (2014a). Resolution 2170. The United Nations Security Council. Retrieved from www.un.org/press/en/2014/sc11520.doc.htm
- Security Council. (2014b). Letter dated 20 September 2014 from the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council. The United Nations Security Council. Retrieved from www.securitycouncilreport.org/un–documents/document/s2014691.php
- Security Council. (2014c). Letter dated 23 September 2014 from the Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary–General. The United Nations Security Council. Retrieved from www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B–6D27–4E9C–8CD3–CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2014_695.pdf
- Shear, M. D., Cooper, H., Schmitt, E. (2015, October 9). Obama Administration Ends Effort to Train Syrians to Combat ISIS. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/10/world/middleeast/pentagon–program–islamic–state–syria.html
- Siddiqui, S. (2015, July 6). Barack Obama says fight against Isis will be ’generational struggle’. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us–news/2015/jul/06/barack–obama–isis–generational–struggle–pentagon
- Sly, L. (2014, February 3). Al–Qaeda disavows any ties with radical Islamist ISIS group in Syria, Iraq. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/al–qaeda–disavows–any–ties–with–radical–islamist–isis–group–in–syria–iraq/2014/02/03/2c9afc3a–8cef–11e3–98ab–fe5228217bd1_story.html
- Stathis, M. (2015, May). ISIS, Syria, and Iraq: The Beginning of a Fourth Gulf War?. Critical Issues in Justice and Politics, 8(1), p. 1–19.
- Swanson, A. (2015, November 18). How the Islamic State makes its money. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/18/how–isis–makes–its–money/
- Terrorist attacks mapped around the world. (2012). The Economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/12/daily–chart–0
- Tibori–Szabo, K. (2016). The “Unwilling or Unable” Test and the Law of Self–defence. In C. Paulussen,T. Takács,V. Lazić, B. Van Rompuy (Eds.). Fundamental Rights in International and European Law: Public and Private Law. Public and Private Law Perspectives. The Hague: Springer.
- Tilghman, A. (2016). This is the Pentagon’s new strategy to defeat ISIS. The Military Times. Retrieved from http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/war–on–is/2016/01/14/pentagon–strategy–islamic–state–iraq–syria/78269180/
- Théron, J. (2015). Rywalizacja Al–Kaidy z Państwem Islamskim. Le Monde diplomatique. Retrieved from http://monde–diplomatique.pl/LMD108/index.php?id=1_4
- Valeyre, L.B. (2012), Winning hearts and minds, historical origins of the concept and its current implementation in Afghanistan. Doctrine Research Journal. Retrieved from http://www.cdef.terre.defense.gouv.fr/contents–in–english/our–publications/cahier–de–la–recherche–doctrinale/winning–hearts–and–minds
- Walsh, J.I. (2013). The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Campaigns. Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press. Retrieved from http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub1167.pdf
- White House. (2008). President Bush and Iraq Prime Minister Maliki Sign the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement. The White House. Retrieved from http://georgewbushwhitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2008/12/20081214–2.html
- White House. (2014a). Statement by the President. The White House. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/the–press–office/2014/08/07/statement–president
- White House. (2014b). Statement by the President on ISIL. The White House. Retrieved from www.whitehouse.gov/the–press–office/2014/09/10/statement–president–isil–1
- Whitlock, C. (2014, September 24). U.S. begins airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national–security/us–begins–airstrikes–against–islamic–state–in–syria/2014/09/22/8b677e26–42b3–11e4–b437–1a7368204804_story.html
- Zenderowski, R. (2006). Stosunki międzynarodowe. Wrocław: atla2.
Publication order reference