Partnerships

Partnerships Key to Defeating Terrorists

Feb. 6, 2019 | BY David Vergun

Owen West, assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict, and Air Force Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker, the Joint Staff’s vice director of operations, discussed the Defense Department’s counterterrorism approach during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington.

Two men walk on flight line
Pilot Walk
Air Force Capt. Ryan Reeves, an F-15 Eagle pilot assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing, and Air Force Maj. Gen. James Hecker, 19th Air Force commander, walk off the flight line following their flight in an F-15 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., Nov. 19, 2015.
Photo By: Oregon Air National Guard Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
VIRIN: 151119-Z-NV612-037C

The 2018 National Defense Strategy spells out how the United States will defend the nation and U.S. and coalition forces abroad. West said there are two components to the strategy, the first of which is the "great power competition," meaning near-peer military competitors China and Russia. The second component of the NDS is a continuation of counterterrorism efforts around the world.

Partnerships Pay Dividends

It’s nearly impossible to do both of these two missions alone. As such, West said "there is an increased focus on the importance of partnerships in this approach that will pay dividends as we refine our approach to irregular warfare in this competitive environment." Irregular warfare, sometimes known as asymmetric warfare, characterizes counterterrorism efforts.

Troops with guns move forward next to truck
Special Operation
Special operations forces from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. conduct a simulated raid on a defended objective during exercise Eagle Resolve in Kuwait, April 2, 2017.
Photo By: Army Master Sgt. Timothy Lawn
VIRIN: 170402-A-WQ129-1008C
Artillery piece fires at night
Howitzer Fire
Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment fire the M777 Howitzer in Qaim, Iraq, Dec. 2, 2018. The soldiers are deployed in support of efforts by Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi forces in Syria as they clear the last remaining pockets of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from the middle Euphrates River valley and prevent them from fleeing into Iraq.
Photo By: Army Sgt. 1st Class Mikki L. Sprenkle
VIRIN: 181203-A-KH856-0573C
Two lines of armed soldiers in camouflage enter a building.
Combat Assessment
Syrian partner forces conduct clearance operations during a final combat assessment in Dayr Az Zawr province, Syria, Dec. 6, 2018. U.S. forces in Syria have provided advice and assistance to partner forces as part of the effort to set conditions for regional stability. The Coalition and its partners remain united and resolved to prevent the resurgence of ISIS and its violent extremist ideology.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Arjenis Nunez
VIRIN: 181206-A-SI386-0013C

West cited Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, as an example of a successful coalition partnership. "Our coalition has liberated the vast majority of ISIS’ so-called physical caliphate," he said.

In this fight against ISIS, West said the coalition was composed of "U.S. special operations forces partnering with and mentoring the Syrian Democratic Forces, which grew from a few hundred to tens of thousands of Kurds and Arabs, all supported by the U.S. Marines, Army, Air Force and international partners."

Multilevel Partnerships

Hecker said that in addition to partnerships at the coalition level, the U.S. must partner with counterpart government agencies to "increase nonmilitary and nonkinetic effects and [enhance] local partner capacity and capability." For instance, he said, the State Department is involved in diplomacy and other government agencies partner with coalition counterpart agencies to enhance the security environment.

Three men in flight suits plan a flight on a wall map.
Map Mission
Italian, Swedish and French fighter pilots plan a mission during exercise Trident Juncture 18 at Bodö, Norway, Nov. 2, 2018. Trident Juncture 18 is one of NATO’s biggest exercises and was designed to test the rapid-reaction NATO Response Force.
Photo By: Mats Nyström, Swedish armed forces
VIRIN: 181102-F-ZZ999-535C

Partners are shouldering more of the load, Hecker said, allowing U.S. forces to have a "smaller footprint" in world trouble spots. For instance, French forces in Mali and Niger have taken the lead in operations against terror groups in those nations. In turn, the U.S. provides them valuable intelligence and logistics.