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Lincoln Institute


The Strategy for Victory or the Agony of Defeat?

by Frank Ryan
 

Our Nation is once again being terrorized by extremist groups intent upon making a statement or inflicting damage to our way of life.

Many are not convinced that there is or should be a war against terror. The very phrase is now politically incorrect. The reality of what is going on today is far different than you may have read in the press or heard in the media.

Having served in Iraq, I can assure you that Iraq is NOT Vietnam and Afghanistan is not Iraq. To fail to understand that basic premise will spell disaster for our eventual defeat of terrorism.

The conflict today is about Islamic Fascism and the Failed Nation States where Islamic Fascism can thrive and flourish. In the Middle East there are those who believe that their war is a war against Infidels. The terms used are merely based upon one's perspective but it is still very real and very dangerous.

In 2003, I wrote: "The war we face today is a different kind of war than any we have known before but it is one we must all be prepared to fight. Our weapons must include not only our Nation's arsenals, but also require your active participation in the discussions our society has about the present conflict as well as those to come.

You must remember that our enemy is a determined one and they are prepared to fight for an extremely long time. Time is our enemy, not theirs. Be patient!

The military aspects of this war are important but so are the economic ones. As such, our nation must focus on providing economic stimulus during the war. Our enemy has decided to fight us not just militarily, but economically as well.

…This war is aimed at Americans, not just the at government, but the very fabric of our society

I wrote this in 2003 to warn everyone that our Nation was in for a long struggle. That struggle has just begun and has many more years before the conflict is subdued. Our elected officials, who opposed the war in Iraq and now support the war in Afghanistan are playing into the hands of the enemy. To fail to understand that the enemy takes encouragement from our elected leaders public comments is horribly nave and potentially fatal to thousands of America's finest.

To achieve victory over Islamic Fascists and Failed Nation States, all of us must remain steadfast and determined to see this conflict through to a successful conclusion. We must also recognize that protecting the national treasury is our mission and the enemy's objective, and therefore, we must be fiscally prudent in prosecuting this war. Finally, our strategic goals need to include economic development and opportunity for failed nation states to eliminate the breeding grounds for Islamic Fascists.

Remaining steadfast and determined has not been an enduring quality or trait of our culture lately. The terrorist organizations know that and we are playing right into their hands. We think that by withdrawing from Iraq, all will be better but the reality is that all we will have done will be to encourage the terror networks that their strategy works. In any arena, that's just a really bad message to send.

The economic aspects of this conflict are equally dangerous. The method we use to fight this war can be horribly expensive. You only have to look at history to see countless societies that have become bankrupt due to sustained conflict. We must be smart about fighting this war and fiscally conservative. How to do that is relatively straightforward, you fight insurgencies with counterinsurgency tactics. We are doing that but we are also paying the price for the fact that in the early 1990's the Executive Branch decided to dismantle the human intelligence gathering capabilities of military intelligence. That is the primary reason for our intelligence failures today. Build the relationships that human intelligence capabilities require and more September 11th type attacks will be avoided. This rebuilding of the intelligence capability is a decades long process and requires our legislative and executive branches to be consistent. Fix the process.

We must encourage religious leaders of Islam, Christianity and Judaism to become involved in this debate and actively push to moderate their followers to dialogue and not conflict.

Additionally, for our strategy to be successful, bureaucracy must die! Having seen the lack of accountability at the appointee level and at the bureaucratic levels with some of our elected and appointed officials, I can only wonder why more mistakes were not made. Our legislative leaders over the past 100 years have institutionalized mediocrity. The Executive Branch must have the ability to remove non-performers and must hold all government employees accountable. Bureaucratic inertia must be eliminated. This is a root cause of flawed decision making processes in government. Government employees are extremely competent but they must be well led.

Finally, I encourage all leaders in positions of authority whose words have meaning and have authority, to keep their comments within government and out of the press. Don't send our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers into harm's way and then abandon them. They deserve better.

Follow a stable sound strategy to win. Victory over Islamic Fascism is not guaranteed. The decision is ours.

Col. Frank Ryan served as the Central Command Special Operations Officer in late 2001 and early 2002 in Tampa and very briefly in Afghanistan. Additionally, he was recalled to active duty out of retirement in 2004 to go to Iraq where he worked with the Iraqi National Security Advisors and the Deputy Ministerial Committee of Iraq of National Security. In civilian life he is a CPA and specializes in keeping companies out of bankruptcy.


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