“What we’re really trying to do here is build on what has worked for us and learn from some of the things that have been a lot more challenging,” Christine Wormuth, undersecretary of defense for policy, told reporters in a conference call. “So a key part of our strategy remains trying to work with capable indigenous forces on the ground.”
Obama’s senior security aides pointed to the Kurdish rebels’ retaking of Kobani, a key city in northern Syria on the Turkish border, in January as an example of the progress they and other ground forces have made in recent months against Islamic State fighters. Since then, Syrian Kurds, assisted by American air strikes, have recaptured about 6,800 square miles of northern Syria from the Islamic State.
“Through that process, we’ve gotten to know a lot of these fighters, a lot of the leaders – Arabs, Kurds, there are Christians there,” said Brett McGurk, a State Department official pegged by Obama to help lead the government’s broader counter-ISIL efforts. “And so we’re looking for ways to take advantage of those relationships and harness them.” (McClatchyDC)
If this report proves to be true, I welcome this burst of sanity among our policy makers with great relief. Perhaps some sentient beings in the Pentagon and State Department read SST’s IS/Coalition War Game directed by Colonel Lang many months ago. We called for this same approach even when it looked like Kobane was about to fall. Naturally this course of action will cause great consternation among the Erdogan crowd. We will probably lose the use of our base at Incirlik once again. So be it. All the more reason to coordinate our air activities with Russia.
Who are these “capable indigenous forces” demonstrating some success against IS? Most are the Kurdish YPG/YPJ fighters seeking to establish their homeland of Rojava. A year ago they established a joint operations room called Euphrates Volcano with several FSA units. They’ve been able to work together and hold their own against IS with the help of US/NATO air support. It works. Don’t screw with it. Just give them all the help they ask for and, for God’s sake, don’t let anybody involved in our previous string of training fiascos anywhere near them. This is a Special forces dream come true.
A coordinated approach of the SAA pushing east with Russian/Hezbollah support and the Euphrates Volcano coalition pushing south with US/NATO support would put IS between a rock and a hard place… almost literally. An added benefit of this coordinated approach would be a reduction in the chance of a US-Russian incident leading to WW III.