As the course of a war goes on, small and disorganized military units get weaker from battle to battle. That is not the case with the war that the Islamic State is waging across Iraq and Syria. Each victory makes them stronger.
This is a nimble and surprisingly organized set up units, not the junior varsity that US President Barack Obama described them as earlier this year. Their most recent victory, taking the Tabqa air base in Syria, cost them around 350 soldiers and the munitions and equipment that was used in the 6-day siege. However, they captured as many as 150 soldiers and will be able to recruit more. They also now control the airplanes, helicopters, tanks, artillery, and ammunition bunkers.
Their success has been helped in large part by their captured tools of war as well as growing ranks of forced recruits and volunteers. According to dw.de:
The Islamic State’s offences have been aided by large quantities of advanced US-made weaponry and armoured vehicles it has seized from fleeing Iraqi forces, and an influx of recruits.
This problem is not going away without intervention from the outside world. While fingerpointing continues in the US and Europe, the group is embedding itself deeper into the crevices of the Middle East. Soon, they will be too powerful for mere air strikes.
As US Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the world during a news conference last week, this group has an “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision” in the Middle East and cannot be defeated unless the United States and a coalition of partners confront it head-on in Syria.
Perhaps that’s the point. As Americans, we have grown to be weary about conflict, particularly in the Middle East. The region is unlikely to see any sustained peace in the near future. It may never see peace until Jesus reigns on earth. Are we prepared as a nation to let the Middle East boil over into a world war?