President Trump ordered the U.S. to accelerate its campaign against the Islamic State, calling it the "anihilation" campaign.
President Donald Trump has ordered the U.S. to ramp up its campaign against Islamic State with an “annihilation” campaign to surround and kill terrorists rather than chasing them out of territory in Iraq and Syria, his defense chief said.
“We’ve accelerated the campaign,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters Friday at the Pentagon.
Since his run for the presidency, Trump has promised what he sometimes called his “secret plan” to defeat the terrorists, and in recent days he boasted that “my generals” would be spelling out how he’s stepped up the military campaign waged under former President Barack Obama.
After Mattis said the coalition has retaken more than 55 percent of Islamic State territory since 2014, he clarified that those gains were under way before Trump took office. “I was not saying it all started with us,” he added.
Still, the terror group isn’t broken yet. A campaign to seize Mosul in Iraq has been mired in street-by-street fighting and a long-promised push to take Raqqa in Syria has yet to begin.
Mattis said that under Trump, the Pentagon led a government-wide review of U.S.-led efforts fighting the Islamic State, which it then presented to the president.
“We submitted that report, and after his review, he then ordered an accelerated operation against” Islamic State, leading to two “significant changes,” Mattis said. “First, he delegated authority to the right level to aggressively -- and in a timely manner -- move against enemy vulnerabilities.” Battlefield commanders have been given more authority to make decisions.
Second, Trump directed a “tactical shift” in the battle, “from shoving ISIS out of seized locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds so we can annihilate ISIS,” Mattis said using an acronym for the group. The intent is to prevent foreign fighters from escaping and returning to attack in their home countries.
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