Pentagon's anti-ISIS plan goes to White House

WASHINGTON • The Pentagon has presented the White House with possible new battle plans to defeat ISIS, after President Donald Trump demanded that top brass find additional ways to destroy the militants.

The review of strategy comes at a decisive moment in the US-led coalition effort against the group in both Iraq and Syria, and could lead to the easing of some of the former administration's policy restrictions, like limits on troop numbers.

A pillar of Mr Trump's presidential campaign was to quicken the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Shortly after taking office, he gave the Pentagon 30 days to review progress to date and develop a comprehensive plan.

The initial draft of the review is now complete, and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis presented the findings to Mr Trump's national security team on Monday.

The options outlined in the classified document are preliminary and need to be further refined, said a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis. The review looked at ISIS around the world, not just in Iraq and Syria.

"It is about the rapid defeat of ISIS," Capt Davis said. "We're going to continue to have a dialogue with our chain of command going forward and developing this plan."

The plan includes diplomatic efforts as well as a military framework that builds on capabilities and goals on the battlefield, according to Capt Davis.

Experts have said the Pentagon could request additional forces, beyond the fewer than 6,000 American troops now deployed to both Iraq and Syria, helping the United States military do more in the fight.

They also said the Pentagon may focus on smaller-scale options like increasing the number of attack helicopters and air strikes as well as bringing in more artillery. The military may also seek more authority to make battlefield decisions.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2017, with the headline 'Pentagon's anti-ISIS plan goes to White House'. Print Edition | Subscribe