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IWP alumnus influences Iraq strategy debate

Shawn Brimley, an alumnus of IWP’s continuing education program, was recently interviewed for an article in the Washington Times regarding the current American strategy in Iraq. Mr. Brimley’s analysis is of particular importance due to his career path and research. As a former aide on the White House National Security staff and a current analyst at the Center for a New American Security, he has a sound base of knowledge upon which to judge current policies.

According to Mr. Brimley, our current strategy in the war-torn state is “failing.” He comes to this conclusion after observing the retreat of Iraqi military forces in various pockets of conflict, as well as the inability to significantly roll back gains made by the Islamic State since our strategy was assumed.

Mr. Brimley believes that issues with the distribution of American materiel and weaponry is partially to blame. Baghdad is experiencing difficulty shepherding this aid to the groups who need it most. Some analysis indicates that Baghdad is simply unwilling to distribute effectively for political reasons. 

“If this is true, then reinforcing a failing strategy that depends on Baghdad doing the right thing might not only be misguided but counterproductive,” he writes. “A better approach might be to surge resources to those actors in Iraq who we judge would actually take on ISIS on the battlefield.” Mr. Brimley states that various groups such as “the Kurdish Peshmerga and several Sunni tribes,” would benefit most from this direct aid.

Furthermore, Mr. Brimley submits that it “may be possible” for the United States to deploy Special Operations forces to support these groups at the tactical level, in the thick of the fight. The hope is that such assistance would stiffen the resolve and quicken the advance of the varying groups.

Mr. Brimley’s suggestions are included in seven papers assembled by a team of analysts at the Center for a New American Security. The think tank maintains a bipartisan standing and has strong ties to politicians in the Obama administration as well as senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton.