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Terror War Strategy Goes Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2005 – The threat that led to the global war on terror began festering long before Sept. 11, 2001, and will continue to rage as long as al Qaeda and other like organizations keep spreading their ideology, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, from U.S. Central Command, said.

Kimmitt, CENTCOM's deputy director for plans and strategy, said the terrorist threat extends well beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. "And that problem set does not go away if we were victorious tomorrow in either Iraq or Afghanistan," he said Nov. 28 at the Heritage Foundation here.

A large network of terrorist organizations is working toward similar ideological goals, he said. "And it's not simply al Qaeda," Kimmitt said. "It's other groups with names such a Jamaah Islamiyah, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There is a large network of these organizations virtually connected in some cases, physically connected in others."

All share an ideology that wants to turn the clock back 15 centuries and create a global caliphate, he said. "That is clearly the intention of al Qaeda and its associated movements," Kimmitt said. "It has been said time after time after time."

Military operations alone won't defeat that ideology, Kimmitt acknowledged. It requires broad-based efforts within the U.S. government and those of other nations, as well as a long-term military response.

CENTCOM's strategy to confront this threat "is for a long war" that focuses beyond what Kimmitt called "the narrow lens of Iraq and Afghanistan."

The plan calls for a smaller U.S. footprint in the region and ongoing cooperation with coalition partners committed to fighting terrorism, he said.

The current U.S. force posture in the region "is just too large, and it can't sustain itself over time," Kimmitt said. "So as we talk about the long war, we talk about re-posturing ourselves to a smaller, more expeditionary, more capable force, but one that is drawn from sanctuary to the region as and when needed," he said.

While moving toward this concept, the U.S. military must continue to work with its coalition partners to help them help themselves, he said.

"Our partners need to be at the lead of this fight," Kimmitt said, noting that most understand the challenges ahead and are taking action against terrorists.

Kimmitt cited Jordan's King Abdullah as an example of a partner who is standing up to those challenges. Other examples can be seen in Kuwait and Egypt, he said.

"So as we continue to help our partners help themselves, we believe that this is one of the fundamental strategies going forward," he said.

CENTCOM's overall strategy - taking the fight forward rather than allowing terrorists to strike the U.S., re-posturing U.S. forces over time, helping partners help themselves as they stand up to terrorists and denying terrorists safe havens and sanctuaries - is essential to the success of the long war against terror, Kimmitt said.

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