An effective theater battlefield strategy – one that secures victory within parameters acceptable and profitable to the victors (Pyrrhic victories are not the result of “effective” strategies) -- is the final product of a long chain of critical assessments that begin with a nation’s Grand Strategy (determination of national interests – vital, important, and peripheral – and the resources that will be developed, maintained, and employed to protect those interests).
The United States (particularly over the last 100 years) exerts tremendous effort in codifying Grand Strategy, from which a National Military Strategy – and the resource requirements to support it – is derived. Literally hundreds of millions of man-hours of critical analysis and strategic assessment, by some of the finest civilian and military strategic thinkers on the planet, are expended every year to ensure that the United States is prepared to protect its national interests in any conceivable contingency. The United States mans, organizes, trains, and equips military forces accordingly, and does so better than any empire the world has ever seen.
Assuming that the mission given a Theater Combatant Commander is in consonance with our nation’s Grand Strategy, that commander would then, by definition, have available for his use ample resources and authority to accomplish that mission.
In short, if the mission is important enough to our National Command Authority, a winning battlefield strategy should be a no-brainer.
If, however, the mission is less important to our National Command Authority than domestic political considerations or is colored by a current decision-maker’s (or significant advisors’) worldview that does not place the interests of the United States absolutely and unquestionably above the interests of any other nation or non-governmental organization, then a winning battlefield strategy becomes problematic, no matter the excellence of the nation’s long-existing Grand Strategy or the amount of national treasure expended to make the supporting National Military Strategy feasible.
So, with the foregoing as instructional preamble, we find ourselves with a set of questions before us:
Is the defeat of the Islamic State a matter of vital national interest?
a. If yes, then whose competence should be in question at present – the President’s or the Pentagon’s?
b. If no, then our President should say so and explain why not.
Actually, the Colonel needs no answer from the President. It is quite clear -- even to this knuckle-draggin’, mono-syllabic grunting, academically-challenged cretin -- the President does not consider the defeat of the Islamic State to be in the “vital” national interest of the United States.
So, that would make defeat of the Islamic State either an “important” or “peripheral” national interest.
If the Islamic State is not a clear and present danger to the United States, but still of grave concern to the security of friends and allies – an “important” national interest – then the question remains:
Whose competence should be in question regarding the failure to develop (in over a year’s time) a “complete strategy” (his words) for the defeat of the Islamic State – the President’s or the Pentagon’s?
If defeat of the Islamic State is considered only of marginal or peripheral interest to the United States, then why are we expending any treasure or risking any American lives?
The Colonel ain’t smart and you can’t make him, but this ain’t rocket science.