Defense Dept. sends options for fighting Islamic State to Trump

Trump has said for nearly two years that he plans to crush the Islamic State militant group.
By Doug G. Ware  |  Feb. 27, 2017 at 3:32 PM
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Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense on Monday sent what it called a "preliminary framework" to the White House for President Donald Trump to consider his options for fighting the Islamic State.

Trump has promised for nearly two years that, as president, he would crush the Islamic State, also referred to as ISIS and Daesh, its Arabic name.

The president had asked military officials to draw up a blueprint for combating the group in Syria and Iraq.

A principals committee at the White House was set to meet Monday to discuss the matter. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis is ultimately the point man in laying out Trump's options.

It remains to be seen what course of action the president will take against the Islamist group. For 16 months on the campaign trail, 10 weeks as president-elect and now five weeks as commander in-chief, Trump has repeatedly promised to dispatch the militant organization and disrupt its ability to inspire violence in affiliated fighters and lone wolf sympathizers the world over.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated that the new efforts could go beyond Syria and Iraq.

"Our plan, to be successful, needs to, No. 1, cut the connective tissue between regional groups that now form a transregional threat," he told the Brookings Institution recently.

So far, American troops have been very limited in their participation in the overseas terror fight. The Pentagon, instead, has been a fueling force for a coalition that's been taking the fight to the Islamic State on the ground in the Middle East.

Some government officials and critics have expressed at least some degree of hesitancy about how much Trump could increase U.S. engagement in a terror fight that's already taken a great number of American military and civilian lives in the past decade.

The most skeptical critics also cite the president's actions purportedly aimed at fighting terrorism in other areas -- such as the attempted closure of U.S. borders to refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries -- as cause for greater concern. Earlier this month, Trump slammed federal courts involved in the issue via Twitter.

"Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril," he wrote Feb. 5. "If something happens blame [the federal judge in Seattle who blocked the order] and court system. People pouring in. Bad!"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats took aim at Trump for his overall job performance Monday.

"Trump says his actions are to make America safer. The fact is he is making us less safe," she said at a news conference Monday with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

"[Trump's] Muslim ban dishonors our values, violates our Constitution and undermines America's fight against terror," she added. "The American people are mobilizing. They will not stand for anymore of Donald Trump's broken promises."

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