A new report is shedding light on how President Trump’s administration has altered the course in our ongoing war with the Islamic State. Less than a year after President Trump took office, his policies have shown a measurable difference in the fight. ISIS now controls less than 3% of Iraq, and a surprisingly low 5% of Syria.
It is Trump’s direct approach to combating the terrorists that many feel has resulted in the change. Fox, reporting on the shift, begins with an anecdote from the previous administration. “Hundreds of ISIS fighters had just been chased out of a northern Syrian city and were fleeing through the desert in long convoys, presenting an easy target to U.S. A-10 Warthogs.”
The fleeing terrorists would have made an easy target. Yet they were not targeted. The orders to fire on them never came, and the terrorists were allowed to regroup.
“I will…quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS,” Trump promised from the campaign trail. “We will not have to listen to the politicians who are losing the war on terrorism.” After taking office, he installed Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense.
One of the most visible moves was the update to the rules of engagement.The administration gave their control over to the generals in the field and stepped back from the decision making on the ground.
“I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that,” U.S. Marine Col. Seth Folsom said.
The second half of the Trump administration’s policy concerned recruitment of local governments.
“Lt. Col. Seth Folsom credits the cooperation between Iraqi Security Forces and the U.S-led coalition for the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq,” Fox writes.
“The leadership team that is in place right now has certainly enabled us to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, the ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, told Fox. “I couldn’t ask for a better leadership team to work for, to enable the military to do what it does best.”
“It moved more quickly than at least I had anticipated,” Croft said. “We and the Iraqi Security Forces were able to hunt down and target ISIS leadership, target their command and control.”
Marine Col. Seth Folsom, ran a campaign against ISIS in Syria. Folsom expected the fight to last six months. It was over in a matter of days. “We really had one mandate and that was enable the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS militarily here in Anbar. I feel that we have achieved that mission,” Folsom said. “I never felt constrained. In a lot of ways, I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”
“We were able to focus on what our job was without distraction and I think that goes a long way in what we are trying to accomplish here,” he said.
“We used precision strikes, and completely in accordance with international standards,” he said. “We didn’t lower that standard, not one little bit. But we were able to exercise that precision capability without distraction and I think the results speak for themselves.”
While the threat is greatly diminished, the fight is far from over. “ISIS is very adaptive,” said Col. Ryan Dillon, the U.S.-led coalition spokesman. “We are already seeing smaller cells and pockets that take more of an insurgent guerrilla type approach as opposed to an Islamic army or conventional type force. So we have got to be prepared for that.”