The Skeptics

Here's How Trump's Pentagon Could Take On ISIS

4. Find, Fix, Finish: When Gens. Stanley McChrystal and Michael Flynn were in charge of special-operations forces and intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. operators would often launch a dozen raids against select terrorist targets every night. Vast quantities of intelligence were scooped up during these raids and quickly sent back to headquarters, where they would be analyzed and incorporated into future operations against other high-profile terrorists. The practice is referred to as F3EAD: find, fix, finish, exploit, analyze and disseminate. In short, find the target, kill or capture him, gather any information that you can find, determine if that information is reliable enough to act upon and, if so, use it to power the next operation. This system is credited with nearly destroying Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2010.

Mike Flynn, the man who helped pioneer the F3EAD concept, is now President Trump’s national security adviser—the person who often gets the last word with the president when all of the other cabinet members and advisers leave the room. Flynn could advocate for a return the F3EAD practice, reinforced with an intelligence surge whose sole objective would be destroying ISIS’s leadership structure from the ground up.

What option or combination of options will President Trump decide on? Is he willing to risk domestic political backlash by deploying thousands of additional U.S. soldiers to Iraq and Syria, which in all certainty would cause more U.S. casualties? Or will he continue his predecessor’s policy of outsourcing the fight to America’s local allies on the ground, perhaps with more resources and a greater pace of operations from the air? The new commander in chief has a lot to think about.

Daniel R. DePetris is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

Image: U.S. Marine Pfc. Garrett Reed during a security patrol in Garmsir, Afghanistan. Flickr/DVIDSHUB