When I read the below tweet an hour ago, I told myself that if it checks out this might be the first thing this raging blowhard has claimed to have done that I half-approve of. I felt badly about admitting this, but if Trump’s Middle Eastern fighting tactics had really made a difference, I had to give him fair credit.
Then I read a 10.25 Washington Post article that evaluated a similar claim that Trump made on 10.13.17, which was that his administration had “done more against ISIS in nine months than the previous administration has done during its whole administration — by far, by far.” Reporter Glenn Kessler determined that Trump’s claim was mostly about exaggeration and hyperbole, although tactical changes ordered by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have “resulted in an acceleration of the coalition meeting its objectives.”
Kessler #1: “’There were no significant changes in the overall plan in combating ISIS,’ said Ali Soufan, chief executive of the Soufan Group, and a former FBI agent who specialized in international terrorism cases. ‘What we are witnessing today is mostly the fruits of what the former administration started.'”
Kessler #2: “’There is no doubt that the Trump administration followed the basic strategy set in place by the Obama administration,’ said Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA. ‘There is no doubt that Obama would have gotten where Trump is at this moment as well.'”
Kessler #3: “Trump also allowed commanders on the ground to make some battlefield decisions, avoiding micromanagement from Washington. (One example often cited by officials is when Syrian Democratic Forces requested the use of V-22 Osprey aircraft to cross Lake Assad in order to surprise militants in the town of Tabqa, which was approved on spot without getting buy-in from the White House.)”
Kessler #4: “Another tactical shift was a ‘campaign of annihilation’ — surrounding cities held by militants — that has ensured that no militants will escape from cities. Obama’s defense secretary, Ash Carter, had left an escape route for militants to minimize destruction to cities and deaths of civilians.”
Kessler #5: “Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies dismissed land as a fairly useless metric given most of the territory is desert. But he said other metrics, such as air power, also bolstered the case that Obama had done more. According to Cordesman’s calculations, coalition forces have flown 63,758 sorties, of which 23 percent were flown under Trump. As for air munitions used, coalition forces dropped 65,731 in 2014-2016 versus 36,351 in 2017. That amounts to 36 percent under Trump.
“’Obama set up virtually all the structure that did the key fighting under Trump,’ Cordesman said. He attributed Trump’s claims of dramatic success as akin to ‘saying nothing happened in Europe until the allies in the West crossed the Rhine and entered Germany on March 7, 1945.'”