There are two ways to fight ISIS: The right way, and Obama’s way

An ISIS video emerged on Sunday that showed American and former Army Ranger, Peter Kassig, beheaded along with over a dozen Syrian soldiers. To date, five Westerners have been held captive, presumably tortured, used as propaganda and then brutally murdered. Three of those killed were Americans. ISIS still has an American hostage: A 26-year-old woman who had been in Syria to help orphaned children who were displaced because of the Syrian civil war.

How many more Americans have to be murdered before the White House says enough is enough? How much longer before the White House unleashes the might of the U.S. military to completely obliterate ISIS once and for all?

There is only one option when it comes to fighting ISIS. Destroy them. But as we’ve seen so far, the Obama administration is content with degrading ISIS and their capabilities with the intention of not drawing the U.S. into another Middle Eastern war. The administration appears to be more concerned with the word ‘combat’ than clearly defining a feasible strategy for defeat, not to degrade.

Defeating ISIS is not a matter of capability; it is a matter of resolve and leadership. The power of the U.S. military should not be underestimated. If given the green light, it would decimate ISIS. Our military leaders are experts at creating strategies to do just that. There would be nowhere for spineless terrorists to run and hide. Unfortunately, the DOD has to fight a war under the micromanagement of a White House that cares more about presidential legacies and perception than swiftly eliminating the threat.

The Obama administration must rethink their military strategy against ISIS. Airstrikes to date have been effective at damaging ISIS equipment and killing ISIS fighters, but they are only a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Airstrikes have challenged ISIS to change their tactics, techniques and procedures. ISIS is already scrambling to make these changes. The shift in tactics will ensure that status quo airstrikes will become increasingly ineffective and the air campaign will shift from a fighter jet and bomber platform to a reconnaissance and attack helicopter mission that can operate in low altitude close air support and communicate with soldiers on the ground to destroy the enemy.

As ISIS operations go underground, it will and has become increasingly difficult to find and fix targets. ISIS will stop operating in masses and traveling in convoys. They will blend in with the local populace because they are fully aware of the self-imposed limitations of the U.S. military and their rules of engagements. As with every fight the U.S. has had in the War on Terror, no matter what the terrorist organization, they use our humanity against us.

But our military has adapted as well. They are the best-trained, funded, and skilled military in the world. They have the techniques, technology, and might to find, fix, and destroy any aggressor in the world. The modern fighting force has over 13 years of experience fighting in the Middle East.

What our lethal military force is lacking is the fortitude of a commander-in-chief who wants to destroy the enemy. Mission ambiguity is incredibly dangerous, not only for our troops who have to fight, but for our overall defense posture.
Slowly increasing the amount of military ‘advisors’ in Iraq only furthers the politically driven agenda of ‘no boots on the ground.’ Boots are on the ground and it is combat no matter how much spin is placed on it. Playing this game of semantics with the American people is deceitful and it only furthers Obama’s image of feckless decision making about our national security and military.

ISIS has grown increasingly more desperate due to recent events of losing occupied territory and loss of leadership, but leaders will be replaced. In contrast, ISIS is very much winning on the propaganda front, and long term, can be viewed as more critical. Which is why it is essential to immediately focus on the destruction of ISIS. Time is of the essence. It is time to release the fury of the U.S. military.

We are at a crossroads in the fight against ISIS. Americans being beheaded at the hands of evil cannot become just another tragic event. A clear message must be sent to terrorist organizations around the world that if that is the way they operate — ruthlessly targeting and beheading Americans — that they will not merely receive a fight, but a rapid annihilation. They will cease to exist. And the world as we know it will be a better place.

We are at war with ISIS. The direct threat they pose to the U.S. and our interests will not subside until the administration stops politicizing strategy and micromanaging the DOD. It is time to give the military the authority to do what they do best, defeat the enemy.

Originally published in the Daily Caller

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberSmithUSA

10/1/14: Fox News, Strategies to Defeat ISIS

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8/25/14: Fox News, Only A Matter of Time Until ISIS Attacks the West

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This Veterans Day Veterans Still Struggle with a Broken VA

A few years ago I was surrounded by the graves of soldiers at the American cemetery in Normandy, France, which allowed me to reflect on the men and women who have fought for our country over the centuries. Standing there among the white crosses, I came to the conclusion that the best legacy we can give to those who gave their lives, as well as all of those who have served, is to ensure that veterans receive the very best services that they have earned from the Department of Veterans Affairs. And sadly, we are not.

We must continue to support veterans — as well as those who are still fighting for our country — by ensuring that after hanging up their uniforms they have access to the best services. They deserve better than to come home to a broken VA and be forced to navigate a bureaucratic maze.

The VA scandal broke in April amid reports that veterans died as a result of delayed care. Records were falsified. Many veterans were placed on phony wait lists or signed up for ghost clinics. Some were living in filth in VA facilities, and some were exposed to disease as a result of unsanitary conditions.

After the dysfunction and toxic leadership were exposed, many steps were taken to improve the VA with the intention of restoring the department to a customer service-oriented organization. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down and was replaced by Robert McDonald. The $16.3 billion VA reform bill was signed into law in August with high hopes. Key parts of the law had the potential to tackle the VA’s most pressing issues, including accountability and private healthcare options. A broken bureaucracy was given every necessary tool to fix itself.

But to date, little or nothing has been accomplished with the new VA powers granted by the reform law.

Last week the VA failed to meet a Nov. 5 deadline to mail its new Choice Cards to veterans. The VA did not ask Congress for an extension even though the agency knew it could not meet the deadline.

Even more surprising is that only one VA executive has been fired because of the ongoing scandal at the agency. Last month the VA released statements that it was in the process of removing four employees, but in reality one had already retired and one had already been hired by the Department of Energy (which rescinded the job offer after reports of ethical breaches).

Sharon Helman, director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System where the scandal began, still has not been fired more than six months after the scandal broke. In fact, many top VA execs who might be fired are finding a way to retire instead, presumably with full benefits. That is not accountability. The reform law was passed to allow swift accountability by firing employees who contributed to the unethical and dysfunctional management that has plagued the VA.

The best way to honor veterans this Veterans Day is to make sure the VA knows this problem will not be swept under the rug. Americans must continue to pay attention to the lack of accountability and unethical behavior that continues to harm our veterans.

There is still a lot of work to be done, and it will take time, but unfortunately VA leadership continues to make excuses about why there has been no accountability while releasing overblown success stories that stretch the truth. That type of culture has been the status quo at the VA for far too long. We want to see a new type of VA — one that prides itself on honesty and integrity, not the quickest fabricated headline. We need a VA that prioritizes serving veterans — not VA employees.

The problems facing the VA are unpleasant and discouraging, but they cannot be ignored or wished away. Our veterans are worth the hard work it will take to ensure that one day they will have a quality Department of Veterans Affairs. Not only do they deserve top-notch care and the best possible service from the department that was created to serve them, they earned it.

Originally published in the Washington Examiner

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberSmithUSA

Malala Is What The Real War On Women Looks Like

On Friday, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating for girls’ education rights in Pakistan, became the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala’s story of perseverance and overcoming unbelievable odds as she continues to fight for children’s and girls’ rights to an education is inspirational and humbling. It is also a reminder of the reality of the truly horrific, real war on women that exists around the world today.

You have probably heard the worn-out rhetoric about the so called “war on women” here in the United States—but not in the context of girls like Malala, women sold into slavery, or women stoned to death. In the United States, that term is used by self-proclaimed women’s rights activists or from politicians looking to cash in on the female vote by portraying their opponents as threatening to take away women’s reproductive control.

This overused scare tactic isn’t only false, but grossly disrespectful of women around the world who face true oppression and cruelty on a daily basis.

Let’s Review Some Real Oppression

Right now, Christian and Yazidi women and children are being sold and traded on the black market in Iraq and Syria by the brutal terrorist organization ISIS (see, for example, this story from Jillian Melchior in Cosmopolitan, of Iraqi’ high schooler Hengi Abdullah’s best friend). These women and children have faced ungodly abuse, including torture and sexual assault. Children are separated from their mothers, women are gang-raped by terrorists, and then often sold for around $10. These women are kidnapped after being displaced because of the Iraq war or separated from their families.

Remember #BringBackOurGirls? It was the popular social media campaign celebrities and concerned people used after hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria in April. The media interest in the story died down, but that doesn’t mean the problem went away or that all the well-intentioned tweeting actually brought back anyone. In fact, the status of the kidnapped girls remains a mystery. A few dozen of those originally kidnapped managed to escape, but whereabouts of most of these girls (let alone their health condition and treatment) remain unknown.

In Iran, women still face death sentences by “stoning.” It is a form of capital punishment where a woman is buried up to her chest, then people who have gathered to watch the event throw stones at her—not enough to kill her with the initial blow, but to make it a long, agonizing, and painful death. The initial stone throw is often by the woman’s husband, and followed by her children.

There’s No Comparison to First-World Problems

These stories come in and out of the fickle, U.S. news cycle, but they remain a constant presence and threat to too many women throughout the world every day. This is what the real war on women looks like: It is a day-to-day struggle for survival and to withstand kidnapping, torture, sexual assault, abuse, and oppression.

There is no comparison between what those women face and the “war on women” mantra used here in America. Women in America have equal opportunity and the freedom to pursue anything they choose. All Americans are granted the luxury of freedom and equality; a luxury that most women around the world wish they could experience. Of course, we should continue to work to improve the circumstance of women and girls here at home—make sure they have access to real economic opportunity and quality education. But it’s time we put an end to the ridiculous, over-the-top “war on women” rhetoric.

The war on women is all too real in large portions of the world. Girls like Malala and women who are raped or used as slaves to ISIS are the real victims of this war. It’s time for the Left to stop mocking their sufferings and daily struggle for survival by pretending there is a “war on women” in America.

Originally published at The Federalist
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No More Time to Waste: Bring Home Our Marine Held in Mexico

Today is Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi’s 186th day in a Mexican jail after being arrested for taking a wrong turn, which took him unknowingly into Mexico. That’s 186 days away from his family, away from everything he knows and loves, but most importantly, away from any form of treatment for his combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

As with many veterans who have fought for this country, Sergeant Tahmooressi left the war, but it never left him. The battles of war still haunt him. Not because he is weak or fragile or damaged, but because the effects of war are real. Many of our soldiers face this reality so the majority of Americans will never have to experience the horrific burden of war.

Many have had to witness ungodly encounters—hold their fellow service members in their arms as they die; carry small children who have had limbs blown off; hearing and feeling mortars and rockets explode on their base, day in and day out in a war zone—all can trigger lasting memories and suffering from PTSD. While Sergeant Tahmooressi was in Afghanistan he heroically applied a tourniquet to save the life of a fellow Marine whose legs had been severed in an IED blast.

These are the realities of war that our soldiers endure. And they do so voluntarily because they are selfless and put the needs and demands of our nation above their own. They understand that this country represents something greater than self —and that it is worth putting your life on the line for.

Sgt. Tahmooressi proudly did just that. That is why veterans are our nation’s heroes. And that is exactly why they deserve to be respected and taken care of by the nation they sacrificed so much for when they return home. Unfortunately, many are left to navigate a broken Department of Veterans Affairs with little to no help from the agency created to serve them. Many have to wait months, even years to get into the VA system to get the benefits they have earned.

But even worse than battling a broken bureaucracy like the VA is losing the trust of the commander–in-chief who chose to put American lives on the line to rescue a deserter, Bowe Bergdahl, but has yet to pick up the phone and start a dialogue with the president of Mexico to discuss Tahmooressi’s release. In a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee held Wednesday, Tahmooressi’s mother testified that the president had not called her, nor was she aware of any attempt from the president to negotiate her son’s release.

President Obama continues to say that veterans are our nation’s priority—that America leaves no one behind. He made the latter clear when he traded five top-tier Taliban terrorists for Bowe Bergdahl, who willingly walked off the base two months into his first deployment. The consequence of that decision will be paid for in years to come. Make no mistake, American lives are now at risk because of the president’s decision to release terrorists. While we might not witness the consequences today or tomorrow, sooner or later the released Taliban prisoners will continue to plot and coordinate attacks that kill Americans.

President Obama’s inaction with Tahmooressi is inexcusable. He is the commander in chief and it is his duty to act. It is disgraceful that he is picking and choosing when veterans matter and when they don’t. It is derelict leadership to make self-benefiting decisions while ignoring the areas that will yield smaller rewards.

President Obama needs to reevaluate the severity of the situation. Tahmooressi has been in jail for over six months in conditions that he says are worse than his two years in combat in Afghanistan. His suffering intensifies with each day he is incarcerated. In the same House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, his mother testified that in a conversation they had in the early stages of his confinement he said, “Mom, I tried to kill myself because the guards and the inmates were going to rape, torture and eventually execute me for information.”

Sergeant Tahmooressi’s health and well-being are in a dire state. His PTSD needs to be treated as an emergency medical situation. There is no more time to waste.

His release needs to become a priority now. I’m encouraged by reports that Tahmooressi may be released in the next few days, and I hope that they’re true. And if these reports aren’t true, Mr. President, pick up the phone—make the call. No more excuses. The world is watching; bring our Marine home.

Originally published at The Daily Caller

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberSmithUSA

CNN: Veterans Panel on Obama’s ISIS Strategy