on Terror Not Confined to
Qaeda, CENTCOM General
Washington — The enemy in the war on terror is not limited
to al Qaeda and its associated movements in Iraq and Afghanistan,
but includes a global network of extremist groups, a U.S. Central Command
"If we declared victory and walked away from Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow,
we would be fighting this fight for years and years," said Army Brig. Gen.
Mark T. Kimmitt, CENTCOM’s deputy director of plans and policy, speaking at the
Pacific Northwest National Security Forum. "We are fighting an insurgency,
a terrorist movement, that is represented by al Qaeda, but it is far more than
network the United States is facing in this war includes extremist
groups around the world, and it is a network the nation has
been fighting since before Sept. 11, 2001, Kimmitt said. The
extremist groups are made up of primarily Sunni Muslims whose
goal is to reclaim what they see as the holy lands in the Middle
East and to remove Western influence, he added. Their ultimate
goal is to establish a caliphate in the region, where Sharia,
or Islamic law, rules, and the people are oppressed, he said.
this network, CENTCOM is pursuing an aggressive campaign to
defeat terrorists where they are active and to prevent the
spread of their ideology, Kimmitt said.
One of the
important aspects of the CENTCOM strategy is that it will take
a network to defeat the terrorist network, Kimmitt said. The
global terror network uses people, the Internet, smuggling,
nongovernmental organizations that are sympathetic to their
cause, legitimate governments, front companies and safe havens
to achieve its goals, he said.
that’s the way that the enemy is going to fight us, it is important
to understand that it’s going to take far more than the military
to defeat this network," the general said. "Our network
needs to be equally strong, and it can’t simply rely on the
developing a strong network that uses all elements of national
power to defeat terrorists, Kimmitt said. This network will
rely on federal and state law enforcement agencies, the State
Department and federal intelligence agencies, he said.
aspect of CENTCOM’s strategy is building the capacity of other
nations to fight terrorism themselves, Kimmitt said. Leaders
of the al Qaeda movement have been very clear in stating that
their goal is to rid the region of Western influence and then
go after surrounding countries, which they call apostate or
secular governments, he said. These clear declarations have
made countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait
more willing to work with the United States and prepare to
fight terrorism on their own, he said.
countries get it; they understand that it’s not simply a problem
(Osama bin Laden) has with the West, it is simply a problem
that bin Laden and these organizations have with anybody that
does not believe in their extremist ideology," he said.
Most of the
high-value target operations in these neighboring countries
have been conducted by the countries’ own national forces,
Kimmitt said, and the United States will continue to work with
them to help them prevent terrorist activity inside their borders.
to CENTCOM’s strategy is denying safe havens or sanctuaries
to terrorists, Kimmitt said. The U.S. has to ensure that as
al Qaeda and its related organizations are pushed out of Iraq
and Afghanistan, they don’t just resettle somewhere else, he
Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, with headquarters in Djibouti,
is the model for this preventive strategy, he said. American
and coalition forces there focus primarily on civil affairs
and humanitarian missions to establish relationships with the
people and foster cooperation, should terrorists try to move
into the area.
much easier to stop al Qaeda and its associated movements as
it tries to establish rather than once it’s already established," he
To make sure
a victory in the war on terror lasts, the U.S. is tailoring
its post-conflict strategy for the area, Kimmitt said. It would
be a mistake for the United States to garrison the Middle East
like it did to Western Europe after World War II, he explained.
The correct strategy for the Middle East is to maintain a sufficient
capability in the region to do necessary tasks, such as deterring
adversaries, maintaining lines of communication, and maintaining
access to strategic resources, but not have any more U.S. military
presence than is needed, he said.
cannot be seen as occupiers; we cannot breed a cycle of dependency
in the region," he said. "The force that we see five
years from now, 10 years from now in the Middle East is a fraction
of the size the force is today."
The war on
terror will be a long fight, perhaps lasting a generation,
Kimmitt said, but it is one that must be fought, and the support
of the American public is crucial.
for one, remain confident that America gets it, and America,
despite what our critics may say, is willing to pay in treasure
and in blood to defeat this enemy in The Long War," he