ISIS isn’t as bad as it seems

Lucas Latterell, Staff Writer

ISIS. You’ve probably heard a lot about them on the news lately due to their plethora of horrible atrocities that even Al Qaeda thinks are too extreme. Mass murder, torture, slavery, and destruction of historic art aren’t exactly activities that will make you a lot of friends. And while I believe that ISIS is nasty rabble that ought to be destroyed in a timely fashion. Many people feel that the “boots on the ground” approach is the one and only way to deal with ISIS, an opinion with which I heartily disagree.

While many warhawks point out that ISIS is big, a more critical look will reveal that it really isn’t all that big in the grand scheme of global terrorism. ISIS does have 30,000 members, but that really isn’t much, especially when you consider that the Taliban has 60,000, and no one talks about them much anymore. Fighting ISIS’s supposedly massive army are the Iraqi Military, the Kurdish YPG, and the Kurdish Peshmerga, which combined have over 570,000 members. So even if ISIS is “big,” it’s not anywhere near as large as the forces it’s fighting.

In addition to our above mentioned Middle-Eastern friends, the US already has boots on the ground: over 4,400 US troops in Iraq, alongside another 7,000 private American contractors. The US–led coalition already has a total of over 7,000 troops in the country, which are dedicated to the mission that they should be focusing on: training the Iraqi army to do their own fighting.

We can’t just go in, take out ISIS, and leave like we did just a few years ago, because a new insurgent group will pop up within a week, just like what happened after we invaded Iraq the last time. But if we can help the Iraqi Army to take care of their own problems through our air support, equipment, and training, they can successfully take charge of Iraq’s security, hopefully preventing us from going to war in Iraq every few years. This strategy is proving effective, with the Iraqi Army poised to take the city of Tikrit within days, further shrinking ISIS’ territory. In fact, the the Iraqi Military is so confident of success, that they announced to the entire world that they will be assaulting the city of Mosul around April or May, in order to coax more ISIS members into going there and being easily dispatched by the Coalition-backed forces.

The reason ISIS really isn’t that effective as a fighting force, is because it’s members have very little training, and they possess no where near the amount of sophisticated equipment that western militaries possess, with no air power at all. This means that while our airstrikes may only be a thorn in ISIS’ side, the airstrikes go in fairly unopposed. Because of this, we prevent the main reason that I don’t think we should full on go to back war in Iraq: potential casualties.

In the War on Terror, the US alone has suffered nearly 7,000 service-members killed, and 51,000 wounded. Many of those who do survive war are forced to live a very different, and many times very difficult life because of debilitating wounds suffered while in the line of duty; some visible, some not. Ironically, the wounds people can’t see can tend to be more harmful than those we can, which may be why veterans commit suicide at a rate of about 22 service-members per day. Unfortunately, war-hawks’ reaction to just immediately send in the troops  is typical of many Americans, who in this day and age, will never have to face any of these harsh realities.

It is because of this fact that I’d like to ask everyone to think of the words of George Orwell before so carelessly sending men to war, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” I hope that people can realize that, while war may not affect them directly, many of the freedoms and privileges that they enjoy just by living in this country are due to the fact that nearly one and a half million Americans have laid down their lives so that they could live here. War is something that must be considered carefully, you can’t just decide to send soldiers to their deaths without having a completely justifiable reason for doing it.

So while ISIS is horrible, it really isn’t a big threat to America, especially when you consider how outmanned and outgunned they are by Coalition-backed forces. While a “boots on the ground” approach would probably destroy ISIS quicker, I personally am fine with our current approach. If we keep our current strategy of training the Iraqi army to do their own fighting and help them with a few airstrikes, I feel confident that we will end up with minimal casualties, while quickly making ISIS a thing of the past.