President Obama is changing the objective in the war against the Islamic State from “destroy” to “defeat.”
Military analysts say there is a big difference.
When Mr. Obama made a nationally televised address last September to announce the new war, he said the objective was to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.
But Friday, the White House released its new national security strategy that says, “We have undertaken a comprehensive effort to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.”
“A big difference in terms of commitment and resources,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and military analyst. “Destroying the enemy, depending on the nature of the enemy a state or non-state actor, means we will kill all combatants and their means to continue the fight––factories, transportation networks, economy.
“Defeat could mean a political solution that leaves the enemy combatants alive and ready to fight another day.”
ISIL, an extremely violent Sunni terror army, now controls large portions of territory in Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. launched an air campaign last August, but Mr. Obama has ruled out the introduction of ground combat forces, saying the Iraq army must fill that void.