By Todd Shepherd, The Washington Examiner
Defense Secretary James Mattis said U.S. forces are using “annihilation tactics” in their fight against the Islamic State.
“We have already shifted from attrition tactics where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria to annihilation tactics where we surround them,” Mattis said on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’
“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa, we are not going to allow them to do so. We are going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”
(U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis outlined a new strategy for combatting the Islamic State group. (May 19) Courtesy of AP and YouTube)
When asked whether the faster pace might have been responsible for 100 civilian deaths after a U.S. bombing of Mosul, Mattis said, “The American people and the American military will never get used to civilian casualties.”
But he added that the military found residue in the area that was not consistent with the U.S. bomb materials, leading officials to believe the Islamic State had created a munitions stockpile in a residential area.
Mattis believes the Islamic State has been greatly weakened but refused to put any timeline of the fight, only saying that it will be a long one. But he added the administration is keeping an eye to any successor groups.
“We have had success on the battlefield, we have freed millions of people from being under their control and not one inch of that ground that ISIS has lost has ISIS regained,” Mattis said.
“However, there are larger currents, there are larger confrontations in this part of the world and we cannot be blind to those.”
(US President Donald Trump denounced the perpetrators of Monday night’s deadly attack in Manchester as ‘evil losers’ during a speech in Bethlehem, Tuesday. Speaking alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Trump extended his ‘deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in the terrorist attack and to the many killed and to the families.’ Courtesy of RT and YouTube)
Moving further east to a different theater, Mattis said that conflict with North Korea, “would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”
Mattis said because North Korea was a threat to so many of their neighbors, “it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into combat, if we are not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means.”
Mattis added North Korea can’t be allowed to escalate tensions in the region with no consequence.
“[North Korea] is a direct threat to the United States. They have been very clear in their rhetoric. We don’t have to wait until they have an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear weapon it to say that [the threat] is manifested completely,” he said.
Mattis also discussed shift in military policy, when comparing the Obama administration’s approach versus the Trump administration, which is seen as being more deferential toward generals.
“When you are in operations, the best thing you can do at the top level is, get the strategy right.”
“You have to get the big ideas right, you have to determine what is the policy, what is the level of effort you are willing to commit to it, and then you delegate to those who have to execute that strategy to the appropriate level,” Mattis said.
“What is the appropriate level? A level where people are trained and equipped to take decisions so we move swiftly against the enemy.”