The Pentagon is resigned to the idea that the new ISIS conflict is going to be a very long war indeed, with not only little to show for the early weeks of airstrikes, but no expectation of visible shifts in the near future.
Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin echoed previous comments by other Pentagon officials trying to tamp down expectations of any significant gains in the months to come, pushing the idea that next year or later the war could switch to US advantage.
Gen. Austin said the idea was that a solid year or so of airstrikes would leave ISIS “much degraded,” and eventually they wouldn’t have any US-made tanks or Humvees, at which point the Iraqi military, or in the case of Syria the US-made rebel faction might stand a chance fighting them directly.
The Pentagon hasn’t even started creating the Syrian rebel force which they insist are so vital to the victory in that country, and they believe that in the best case, they will have such a force about a year after they begin training.
At present, the US airstrikes are hoping to hit vehicles to simply soften up ISIS, but with ISIS changing tactics and continuing to make gains, it’s hard to imagine how big of a force they might indeed become within another year.
The Pentagon envisions an extremely protracted war in this case, and Leon Panetta’s predictions of a 30-year war don’t seem to be outside of the norm.