America’s Top General Says We’re Not Ready to Defeat ISIS
Policy + Politics

America’s Top General Says We’re Not Ready to Defeat ISIS

© Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Destroying ISIS is job number one for President Obama and most Americans. But is the United States military set up to do it? Not according to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, America’s top military officer.

At least not without a complete restructuring of military responsibilities and a reorganization of combat commands that are still geared to fighting nation states within physical borders—not Islamic terrorists in isolated cells. That’s what General Joseph Dunford said on Monday at a national security forum co-hosted by the Center for a New American Security and Defense One.

Related: Obama Says Faster Progress Needed Against ISIS

Dunford didn’t try to put a positive spin on a negative situation. “It’s my assumption today that it would be very difficult for any conflict to be isolated to a region,” Dunford said. “When you think about potential adversaries in the future, I think we need to think about strategy right up front that takes into account it is in all likelihood going to be in that way.”

A recap of Dunford’s remarks in Defense One cited the example of a ballistic missile launched in one part of the world, hitting a target on the other side of the globe, and passing through a myriad of jurisdictions of generals and admirals. Dunford wants a one-world operational command view – not a series of territorial siloes that render decision making a slow and tortuous process.

Dunford’s plan is also an admission that the Pentagon hasn’t prepared for the inevitable war against ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, or any other group or groups that can operate without borders.