Iraq

Article

Small Footprint, Small Payoff

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle, Julia Macdonald, and Ryan Baker
Journal of Strategic Studies

Stephen Biddle, Julia McDonald, and Ryan Baker argue that training, equipping, and advising partner militaries is an increasingly popular alternative to large U.S. ground force deployments in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and many other places where the United States has real but limited interests at stake. Yet SFA has often yielded disappointing results in actual practice. The authors explain this pattern as the result of systematic interest misalignment between the United States and the partners it must work with in these kinds of missions—and argue that these problems are only partly remediable. The authors present ways to do better at the margin, but also argue that underlying interest misalignment will limit this tool's likely utility in the future, and that U.S. decision makers must take this into account when deciding when, where, and how to use it. 

See more in Iraq; Afghanistan; Defense and Security; Conflict Assessment

Article

The Problem With Vows to 'Defeat' the Islamic State

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle and Jacob Shapiro
The Atlantic

In recent weeks, ISIS has suffered territorial losses on multiple fronts, including in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The organization may look nearer to defeat than at any time in the past two years, but there is still a great deal of fighting to be done before the group is destroyed, or more likely beaten back to an underground terrorist organization as it was in 2009.

See more in Iraq; Syria; Counterterrorism

Op-Ed

What Comes Next After Raqqa and Mosul?

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Defense One

As U.S.-backed rebels fight to liberate Raqqa and Mosul, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon questions next steps for these cities. “Will these disparate forces stay together to form a federation of at least relative order that allows people to go to work and send their children to school?,” asks Lemmon. “Who will do the governing? Under what authority? And what comes next if that doesn’t happen?”

See more in Iraq; Syria; Military Operations; Conflict Assessment