Tags: Iran | Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | Stanley McChrystal | isis | coalition

McChrystal: Nations Aiding in ISIS Fight More a 'Group' Than 'Coalition'

Image: McChrystal: Nations Aiding in ISIS Fight More a 'Group' Than 'Coalition'
(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 21 May 2015 09:22 AM

It's not just time for a strategy shift when it comes to fighting the Islamic State; it time for strategy to begin with, retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal said Thursday.

"I'm not sure most Americans or people in the world are sure what our strategy is," McChrystal, the author of the new book "Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World," told CNN's "New Day" program. 

But there is an even wider issue at hand, said McChrystal, and that is about who is fighting to contain the Islamic State (ISIS).

"You say we are," said McChrystal. "You say [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad is fighting against them, obviously Iranians are helping, the government of Iraq, Shia militia, the United States is helping, some of the Persian Gulf countries are helping, but it's a group of people."

The challenge is getting the team to work together, he said.

"It's like building a house," the retired general said. You can "bring [in] the greatest plumber in the world and the greatest electrician and greatest carpenter, but if they're not operating on a single blueprint you're not going to get the right house you want."

There is a great deal of political debate about whether it was a mistake to go into Iraq, but the withdrawal of troops is putting "thoughts in the minds" of the Iraqi people "and they act on those thoughts."

"Afghans were always worried America was going to leave because we left in 1989, [and] I think the Iraqis, after we left in 2010, now have grave doubts about it," he said. "That affects their behavior; look how the Saudis are behaving now. So establishing our credibility over time is essential."

The situation with ISIS is manageable, said McChrystal, if "done the right way," but he doesn't think it will be easy to build a team of all the stakeholders.

"I don't think you can get there until you form some kind of an effective coalition with an agreed upon strategic framework," he said. "If ISIS disappears tomorrow, what do we want the region to look like? And we won't dictate it. That's going to be worked out with all the players."

But ISIS, just like al-Qaida, is constantly adapting, and fighting back using traditional approaches won't work, said McChrystal.

McChrystal said he believes it will take "quite a long time" to degrade ISIS, just as it did al-Qaida.

And when there is a psychological blow, such as the recent ISIS takeover of Ramadi, many are left wondering if  the militant group can be defeated.

"We've got to get very serious," McChrystal said. "I think that's the hopeful outcome."

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It's not just time for a strategy shift when it comes to fighting the Islamic State; it time for strategy to begin with — and time to fashion a cohesive team from the "group" of countries aiding with anti-ISIS efforts, retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal said Thursday.
Stanley McChrystal, isis, coalition, iraq
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2015-22-21
Thursday, 21 May 2015 09:22 AM
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