There is a fine line between being a "good soldier" and not speaking the clear facts as you see them. There is also a fine line between supporting the CINC and sounding like a politician.
We've had recent example of good men in difficult places trying to do their jobs without embarrassing themselves.
First, from 22 AUG, our friend RDML Kirby is a little wobbly after some high-level PAO dizzy-izzy.
Q: In January, the president equated ISIL's capabilities to that of a junior varsity team, so, which seems to be in direct contrast with what the secretary said yesterday. I was wondering if there had been new analysis or done to get to the secretary to that position?I think he handled that about as well as it can be.
And does that mean that ISIS is getting stronger?
REAR ADM. KIRBY: I would make a couple of points. One I would point you to what the president said yesterday or the day before about ISIL and the threat that they posed, as well as comments made by Secretary Kerry, and of course you've heard what Secretary Hagel said. I think everybody has the same view here about the threat posed by ISIL not just to Iraq, but to the region.
There's no divergence. This is August. You're talking about comments that were made in January. ISIL -- and we've been watching this for months. They have grown in capability. I've said it from the podium as have others. They have grown in capability with speed, helped along by resourcing from some of their own criminal activity, as well as donations and ransoms and helped along by a sanctuary that they have in Syria. So, we've all been watching this. They have advanced in capability. And we -- we saw the speed with which they gained ground and held ground in northern Iraq earlier this summer.
So, it's a -- the real answer to your question is, it's a constantly changing, fluid situation, and their threat continues to grow. And that's what led us to where we are today, which is that we believe it does pose an imminent threat, and it's a threat that we need to take seriously.
We also have Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey put his marker out a week earlier;
“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated . . . can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border.”Even on the civilian side, SECDEF Hagel is making sure he has his, "Ref. A" when people ask where he was in AUG 2014;
“ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen,” Hagel said in a news conference one day after President Barack Obama lashed out at the militant Islamic group.We know that this President is very slow in his deliberations - in many cases too slow.
“They’re beyond just a terrorist group,” Hagel said. “They marry ideology, sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess, they are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is take a cold, steely, hard look at it and get ready.”
That can be OK in domestic policies, but in national security areas, this academic habit is deadly;
Anthony Shaffer, a former lieutenant-colonel in US military intelligence who worked on covert operations, said: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when he finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.”... and so, we wait. We can tool around all day from the air, and do some fairly impressive things - but the Islamic State can only be defeated one way - by someones boots on the ground.
What army? Well, we know how may divisions the Pope has. Turkey is, even on its own border, fairly useless and counterproductive. The Kurds will not venture too far from their highlands. The Iraqi army? For now, child please.
Wait ... there is one army that is fighting the Islamic State that could use some help - but - oh yea, that is Syria's army. Tough nut.
So, all the pieces are there - even calls for an international army to fight the Islamic State - but there is one thing missing; a leader.
The US is the indispensable nation for things like this - but the odds are the international community is going to have to just deal with it. President Obama holds his Nobel Peace Prize close, and is very fond of being the guy to end wars, not start them. He has perennially wrong Joe Biden at his ear to boot. After seeing how the international community treated us the last time we tried to lead an international army against a mass murderer and sponsor of terror - the American people will have to be sold hard and led towards the idea of going in big again. I don't see Obama doing that.
Action is, and will, have to wait.
In the end, it doesn't matter if inaction is the right thing or not - it just is. If things get worse, I think there will be more open disconnects between what uniformed people say and the actions they are being directed to carry out.
Is that healthy? If done correctly, yes.