One of Donald Trump’s main campaign promises was the destruction of ISIS. On the campaign trail, he promised to “bomb the sh*t out of them”. Well, you can add this to his list of completed campaign promises.
The defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria rapidly accelerated during President Trump’s first year in office, beginning with the fall of East Mosul on Jan. 25, and continuing with a cascading series of defeats for the brutal terrorist group over the next 11 months.
The campaign liberated twice as many people and twice as much territory as in the previous 28 months under President Barack Obama, according to Defense Department figures.
On Jan. 20 — the day Trump was inaugurated — an estimated 35,000 ISIS fighters held approximately 17,500 square miles of territory in both Iraq and Syria.
As of Dec. 21, the U.S. military estimates the remaining 1,000 or so fighters occupy roughly 1,900 squares miles of mostly barren desert primarily in Syria, where few people live, and where they will be forced to surrender or die.
Between September 2014 when the counter-ISIS campaign began, and January 2017, U.S.-backed forces in Iraq and Syria liberated 13,200 square miles of territory and 2.4 million people from Islamic State rule.
In the 11 months since Trump took office, an additional 26,800 square miles have been reclaimed and 5.3 million people have been liberated.
And while the destruction of the ISIS caliphate was a validation of the Obama strategy of working “by, with, and through” partner forces, U.S. commanders gave Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis credit for ending what was largely perceived as micromanagement and overly restrictive rules of engagement under Obama.
“We don’t get second-guessed a lot. Our judgment here on the battlefield in the forward areas is trusted. And we don’t get 20 questions with every action that happens on the battlefield and every action that we take,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend when he turned over command of the coalition in September.
“Commanders now don’t, aren’t constantly calling back to higher headquarters asking for permission,” he said. “They’re free to act.”
White House special envoy Brett McGurk, who also served in the same post under Obama, agrees the Trump adjustments accelerated the pace of defeat.
“These delegations of tactical authorities from the president has really made a difference on the ground,” McGurk said in August, “I’ve seen that with my own eyes.”
Let me tackle a few things here. The first thing is how sensical this plan is. The idea that you should let your generals do what they think is best seems like common sense. Donald Trump realized this was a war and handled it like one.
The second is the idea that we used Obama’s tactics to destroy ISIS. Did we use these partner forces to help us? Of course. Did Donald Trump change how we interacted with them? Yes. His first move was stopping the sale of arms to them. So, we were using them but they were no longer being armed by us. As usual, there was backlash to this. That backlash went silent after it was discovered that many of these weapons ended up in the hands of ISIS. Report: Arms Supplied by the U.S. to Syrian Rebels Often Fell into the Hands of ISIS
Sure, part of Obama’s strategy was used but that strategy didn’t lead to them winning the war against ISIS. The bottom line is Trump allowed the military to do their job and because of that good things happened.