Eric Schmitt, Michael R. Gordon, and Helene Cooper of the New York Times report that:
The Obama administration is preparing to carry out a campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that may take three years to complete, requiring a sustained effort that could last until after President Obama has left office, according to senior administration officials.
The operation, which the president will outline in a speech on Wednesday, will unfold in three stages. First, the air campaign, already underway. Then:
… an intensified effort to train, advise or equip the Iraqi military, Kurdish fighters and possibly members of Sunni tribes.
And, finally, the “toughest and most politically controversial phase of the operation — destroying the terrorist army in its sanctuary inside Syria.
… might not be completed until the next administration. Indeed, some Pentagon planners envision a military campaign lasting at least 36 months.
As with any large military undertaking, events and chance might make hash of the planning. Already, one large question appears:
The White House is counting on an effort by American, Iraqi and Gulf Arab officials to persuade Sunni tribesman in western Iraq, now aligned with ISIS, to break their ties after chafing under the harsh Shariah law the group has imposed.
But these Sunnis, with whom American forces accomplished the "Anbar Awakening,” may well feel they were abandoned by their allies and decline to enlist in another effort. As one of the Sunni leaders told the Times:
“In the past, we fought against Al Qaeda and we cleaned the area of them. But the Americans gave control of Iraq to Maliki, who started to arrest, kill, and exile most of the tribal commanders who led the fight against Al Qaeda.”
The plan does not include the deployment of American ground troops.