KUWAIT CITY — New Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, seeking to put his imprimatur on the U.S. fight against the Islamic State, has summoned about 30 high-ranking military commanders and diplomats to Kuwait for an unusual session to review war plans and strategy.
The summit, which is scheduled to take place Monday, will include the U.S. military’s combatant commanders for the Middle East, Africa and Europe, the three-star Army general in charge of the war in Iraq and Syria, the head of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, several ambassadors in the region and other key players from Washington.
Defense officials said Carter called the gathering immediately upon taking office last week so he could more fully familiarize himself with the strategic underpinnings of the U.S.-led international campaign against the Islamic State. They said Carter was not necessarily seeking to change the fundamentals of the strategy, but they made clear that he would ask hard questions and press commanders and diplomats to justify their current approach.
We’re not exactly the Ashton Carter Fan Club, but he’s a far more serious, better prepared man for SedDef than Chuck Hagel was.
He is likely the very best SecDef we could hope for from the Obama administration. Having said that, he’s also going to be largely hamstrung by that same administration, because his name is Valerie Jarrett.
Having the key players of US efforts in the region come together, and explain their position in plain English is a good approach. Having them reexamine their assumptions is simply good leadership, taking a moment to make sure the planning assumptions reflect reality.
Of course, the lack of coherent policy from above hampers its effectiveness. But it’s better than nothing.
And outlawing PowerPoint?