ISIS leader al-Baghdadi was killed by US forces last weekend. By all accounts he was a mass murderer, killer of innocents, and deserved to be brought to justice. He chose his own justice when he decided to kill himself when cornered.
So we had the obligatory presidential address articulating the event. All well and good as the American people deserve to know first hand when the leader of a significant enemy threat to US security is brought to justice. There were news reports that Trump further inflamed Muslims by saying al-Baghdadi "died like a dog" or words to that effect. Maybe so. There were other reports saying how "courageous" the decision was by the president to send in US forces as the finishing force for the operation. I don't know. Seems like that is what he is supposed to do when a significant threat is identified. After 18 years in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) not sure what to think anymore.
Hard work ahead
Unlike in biology, "kill the head, and the body will die" rarely works in conflict. Readers of Clausewitz will be familiar with the term Center of Gravity, or COG. COG s the source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act. Strategic planners have used this concept for generations to identify where to focus friendly force efforts. Identifying the COG is both art and science, and not always successful. In the American Civil War, McClellan insisted that Richmond was the Confederate COG. Lincoln and Grant knew, however, that the Confederate COG were the forces in the field, primarily Lee's Army. So what is the Islamic terrorist COG? We have known this from the beginning: It is an ideology. So how do you defeat an ideology then?...you do it with a better ideology.
So...what's the next move?
So, we have to ask ourselves, what is the current plan to defeat the Islamic terrorist COG? We know what the COG is, so what are we doing about it? I don't have the answer, and I know there are efforts to address it, but Americans are not hearing much about what those are. I suppose pelts on the wall are more tangible, but do not really solve the problem.