Just An Opinion

National Guard CH-146 Griffon Patriot 2006Credit: Original uploader was Desertsky85451, 2006

Why the U.S. Military Leaders and the U.S. Political Leadership are on two different pages when it comes to ISIS or ISIL (your choice)?

ISIL and Elections

The U.S. President and Congress want to stop ISIS/ISIL from spreading out and, more so, push them out of being a viable threat to the region, U.S. allies and friends. U.S. Politicians are afraid that by putting boots on the ground, it could hurt them in future elections; therefore, they have opted for the bombing option; and now, by deploying military members as trainers. Of course this implies that our military troops on the ground will not directly engage in any fighting, they will simply teach the host nations personnel how to fight.

News MediaCredit: Pixabay

The Media

The debate that the media has jumped all over is the very public and often debated issue of whether or not the United States will or should put boots on the ground; and if so, how many and will they be combatants. For those unfamiliar with this phrase it’s a military reference to having troops directly on the site, on the objective or the territory the government/military wants to control or influence. The politicians and media have been tossing that phrase around as if they truly understand what it means.

Political Arm

What a lot of people don’t seem to grasp is that the military, any countries military, is an armed extension of the political machine. For those of us that serve and have served in the military, we are the politicians’ forceful hand; an armed solution to a political problem. And yes, there are the non-lethal uses of the military such as medical support, rebuilding, engineers, supplies, transportation both by ground and air. We have conducted rebuilding and aid missions all over the world, and still do so.


Recent efforts have included medical, construction and security support for the areas hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic. There also the use of the military in national and local emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. Governments use their military to accomplish goals and objectives that politicians cannot accomplish through political means; thus is the problem for the U.S. Aid can only goes so far.

Other Examples of U.S. Military Non-Lethal Support in History

  • Post-World War II Europe witnessed what was perhaps the most extensive use of the military in civil affairs.
  • The Berlin Airlift of 1947 
  • Military aircraft to deliver food in Sudan in 1985

"In the past five years, military aircraft have air-dropped food into Ethiopia, helicoptered aid into remote villages in Sudan, rescued flood victims (and often their animals) in Bangladesh, rushed pharmaceutical to earthquake sites, and delivered medical teams to hundreds of major and minor disasters. Engineers have helped rebuild roads and bridges (in some countries, to the point where there are more Bailey bridges than normal bridges!) and have supervised the construction of major flood control works in some regions."[1]

California Air National GuardCredit: Senior Airman Matt Smith, U.S. Air Force, 2008


Teaching and training a host nation’s people does not ensure that we will defeat and destroy our enemy’s ability and will to harm us. It certainly doesn’t ensure we control the ground our enemy is occupying. Claiming that we can fight an enemy, force them out, and all without deploying combat troops is, as every single military person (past and present) knows – if you can’t stand on the ground, you don’t own it. You can bomb a thousand times every day and still, the person that is left standing on the terrain – owns the terrain.

If You Are Not Standing On It, You Don't Control It

The U.S. President and U.S. politicians cannot control or own the ground by bombing alone. You can spend millions of dollars and resources to train another nation’s people to fight their own battles; yet, when we, the U.S. make it our mission to destroy or make an enemy irrelevant, trainers, money, and material resources have never accomplished the goal. The President and Congress have given a mission to the military to stop ISIS and control the area. Every military person, regardless of rank, understands that basic principle of; I say again, if you are not standing on the ground, you don’t own it. If it’s not the U.S. military standing on the ground, some other military will have to do the job.

US Air ForceCredit: Pixabay

And therein lays the problem: the U.S. military leadership has been given a mission with their hands tied behind their backs. Politicians are like children; they want everything; they don’t want to be responsible for it; and, they don’t want to pay for it – in votes I mean. Yes, the mid-term election were over in November (2014); yet, that’s not the election they are concerned with. It’s the big prize election; the presidential 2016 election that each political party is positioning themselves for. No politician wants to be responsible for deploying troops in a combat role to engage in conflict or war; especially in a country that is currently tired and strained from the longest war era faced in U.S. history.

3 SEALs Secure the AreaCredit: U.S. Navy


If history repeats itself, and it probably will, we will eventually increase the number of U.S. boots on the ground and expand their mission to include special operations troops in an advisory role and leadership role of host nation troops. Then, after we have a few U.S. deaths, we will deploy a few thousand more troops until we are the ones doing the majority of the fighting while the host nation sits back and watches from the sidelines.

4th Infantry Brigade Combat TeamCredit: U.S. Defense Department, 2010

Bottom Line

If the President and Congress want to claim we will destroy ISIS/ISIL; then commit to it with vigor. Don’t bind the military’s hands with political handcuffs. Politicians must stop second-guessing the military leaders and pretending they know more how to fight and win than the troops having to actually do the fighting. If you want our military to win, then take the cuffs and gloves off. If you want them to fail, then keep on doing what you are doing.