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Command Post What is this?
Posted on Sep 12, 2019
MG Dana Pittard
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1SG Claims Assistant
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Edited 1 mo ago
It would seem that after some years of dawdling, a change in strategy enabled and resourced a decisive win against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Could you illuminate on why it is that we seem to be largely ignoring ISIS element in Libya, specifically in Benghazi, Al Bayda, and Al Qubah?
This area seems to be one that they are building up a base of support, threating European Allies and Egypt. We seem to be content to watch four factions fight over the carcass of Libya, while these characters lie in wait to spring their next operation.
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MG Dana Pittard
MG Dana Pittard
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I agree with most of what has been said. As far as Libya, I was aware that we had national level assets devoted to ISIS in Libya. In 2015, I travelled to Egypt to discuss ISIS in Libya with the Egyptians and others.
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1SG Claims Assistant
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MG Dana Pittard - Any thoughts about what is going on there now?
(I get what national level assets means, and why that might not be internet-worthy).
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MG Dana Pittard
MG Dana Pittard
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I no longer know the deep specifics of what is going on in Libya with ISIS today; but, it is something that was certainly predictable. ISIS will continued to go to failed states like Libya, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan and other areas. ISIS must be defeated wherever they appear in the world.
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MG Dana Pittard - Frankly, I am surprised that Egypt is tolerating their presence there.
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SPC David Stephenson
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Edited 1 mo ago
First, thank you gentlemen for your service and for taking the time to share your experience with us on RP. I have two questions - First for MG Pittard: In looking at the dynamics of the battle space what are your thoughts in regards to the CoC and the integration of big data and a more autonomous ability to engage combatants by NCO's? Mainly thinking of the speed to engagement/OP tempo.
For MSgt Bryant, What are your thoughts on the A-10 and the future of CAS and what would you prefer working with, drone or fast mover pilots in regards to JTAC?
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MSgt Wes Bryant
MSgt Wes Bryant
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Hi David,
Love the question. The A-10 without a doubt has been the workhorse for JTACs. It is a platform we can always count on. That said, with this near-20-year war on terror now, our fast(er) movers have become very adept at CAS--specifically the F16 pilots on the Air Force side of the house, and F-18 drivers on the Navy/Marine side.

There are benefits to both. In a ground fight, if I'm on the ground myself, I will always take an A-10 roaring over me any day. However, when we're looking at other operations where we want stand off or reduced noise signature, other platforms may be better. Regarding drones--for a JTAC they are always supporting. If all we have is a drone, it's better than nothing, but when you're talking a troops-in-contact situation they are not as responsive as a fast mover, and they don't carry the payload. So when troops are on the ground, we will always have a mix of strike/fighters (or bombers) with drones. If we are tracking targets from afar, we will mostly utilize our drones because they are the best at sitting on something and watching it for long periods.

Regarding the future of CAS, we can't rely on our drone or our digital technology. It has been proven time and again that nothing can beat human-to-human communication in regards to strike coordination and warfighting in general. I think currently we have a good mix of technology that augments the human warfighter, but there are those elements in the DoD and the military technology industry trying to go full up droid in our warfighting, and that's where we will fail. At least I don't see us ready to go that route now--maybe in a couple hundred years.
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SPC David Stephenson
SPC David Stephenson
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Great insight into all the dynamics at play - different plays for every down and distance. I agree on the dangers in integrating to much tech into the battle space - I feel some of this demand is created by the military industry. While some of it is "cool" I feel we overthink and way over engineer platforms to deliver a kill bandit result. The low tech asymmetric fighting I feel is a good reminder to keep it simple.

FYI I picked up the book on Amazon - looking forward to reading it.
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MG Dana Pittard
MG Dana Pittard
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Hi David,

I think that we are already seeing more and more data, information, and intel going to smaller units and individual Soldiers and leaders. Depending on the type of conflict we are fighting, we may see a lot more autonomy by small units led by NCOs and/or Officers.

Every service is slightly different in how much responsibility is given to our Non-Commissioned Officer Corps. The Air Force initially designated only commissioned officers as drone pilots, while the Army uses NCOs as drone pilots.

Thank you for your past service to our nation.
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MSgt Wes Bryant
MSgt Wes Bryant
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Yep, agreed David-- the day we stop training the basics with nothing but a compass, rifle, and a radio, is the day we will watch our ability degenerate. This especially when we discuss near-peer adversaries--who have the capability to render our technology all but useless.
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SGT Dave Tracy
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Edited 29 d ago
Thanks for stopping by gentlemen. The book sounds interesting. My question is, as ISIS lose geographic territory and frontline fighters, what can be done to ferret out radicalized sleepers who migrate out from the area and/or can the radicalized be identified and deprogrammed; and who are the best to do that work?

MG Dana Pittard, I just wanted to say I fell under your command at Ft. Bliss about 10ish years ago and--insofar as someone like me can fairly judge--through the many division changes and growth of the post, you ran 1st AD as well I could imagine.

Lastly, we met briefly at a training FOB at Bliss in 2012. In fact, if I were ever memorable to you, it would only be because I probably broke the sound barrier whipping up what was the fastest salute I've EVER done, once I recognized it was you and your high-ranking entourage walking directly towards me, while my fellow Joes chickened out and took off in the other direction! LOL!
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MSgt Wes Bryant
MSgt Wes Bryant
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Awesome question Dave. I think this is a great one for Dana to answer... he'll be up on this tomorrow.
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MG Dana Pittard
MG Dana Pittard
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Hi SGT Tracy,

Thank you for your question. There is still a huge concern over radicalized sleeper individuals or sleeper cells in the region and around the world. ISIS was very adept in reaching a global audience on social media. At one point in 2014/2015 they were putting out 90,000 tweets a day!

The best defense against ISIS sleepers in America and in the West (Europe) is an informed and aware population that can report any suspicious behavior to the local authorities and police. Within the region, we must depend on local tribes, moderate Muslim clerics and ordinary people in towns and cities to detect any ISIS sympathizers. Moderate Muslim clerics will also help to "de-program" and de-legitimize the ISIS religious "doctrine."

For those ISIS sympathizers that migrate to other countries and are able to get through security and immigration screening, we will need help from local Muslim communities to contact their local Muslim clerics or local authorities of suspicious activities. This one is tenuous at best; some Muslim communities may be afraid to go to authorities.

The intelligence services and inter-agencies of the U.S. and our allies (especially the intel services of Muslim countries) will be key to monitoring suspected ISIS fighters and sympathizers.

Thank you for your service to our nation. It certainly was an honor to serve with you in 1AD and Fort Bliss!

Sincerely,
Dana Pittard
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SGT Dave Tracy
SGT Dave Tracy
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MG Dana Pittard - Thanks for the reply. If you have time for a follow-on question; are regional partners, moderate clerics, etc. willing to come on board with such de-programming, and if so, what--if anything--those of us in the west can do to support such efforts without usurping their role in de-programming?

By that last part, I mean as "outsiders" I don't think we would be viewed as legitimate change agents in the eyes of not just these local moderates, but by members/sympathizers of ISIS. That would greatly limit successful adoption of de-programming I think.

Thanks!
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MG Dana Pittard
MG Dana Pittard
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Dave,

I believe that many of our regional partners are willing to "de-program" former ISIS fighters and sympathizers through a combination of the use of clerics, tribal leaders, family, monetary incentives, and even threats of imprisonment. It is not easy problem that will be solved overnight. There is very little that the West can do except to put pressure (positive and negative) on regional governments to continue to de-radicalize former ISIS fighters and sympathizers.
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