Speaking at a conference on the ongoing ISIS war, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter vowed that President-elect Donald Trump would remain committed militarily to the anti-ISIS coalition, saying that the “results we’re seeing” in the war are too good for any changes to happen.
Carter is just the latest in a series of Obama Administration officials who have made speeches in recent weeks insisting that Trump would not change major portions of US policy,. Though Trump has never been said to be considering any big changes in the ISIS war, beyond claiming secret plans to win, many of the other comments have sought to lock Trump into policies explicitly contrary to his campaign promises.
Carter was also the latest official to suggest that the US military commitment was more or less permanent, insisting that the fight against ISIS would require the US to remain “engaged militarily” in Iraq on a sustained basis to ensure ISIS doesn’t pop up again.
Though President Obama launched the ISIS war with a promise of “no boots on the ground,” there are an estimated 6,000 US troops in Iraq now, and 500 more in Syria. There are no signs of any timetable for ever ending these deployments, and indeed the trend seems to be sending more and more.
With the administration eager to present territorial gains in both countries as proof they are “winning” the war against ISIS, it has raised a lot of questions about what comes after the war, and in part these comments appear designed to underscore that there simply is no “after the war” as far as military planning is concerned.