Friday, January 12, 2007

The Global War on Terror

On Thursday, January 11, 2007, Brigadier General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., U.S. Army Commandant of Cadets at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, presented The Global War on Terror: The Long War. This compelling and insightful presentation took place at the Thayer Hotel in West Point as coordinated by the West Point-Highland Falls Rotary Club.

General Caslen's distinguished career includes joint positions such as the Director, J-3, Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras, as the Executive Officer to the Commander of the Multi-National Forces, and then to the Commander of the U.S. Forces United Nations Command during Operations Restore and Uphold Democracy. In support of the Global War on Terrorism, he served as the Assistant Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy, J-5 on the Joint Staff, and then as Chief of Staff of the Coalition Joint Task Force Mountain, 10th Mountain Division in Baghram, Afghanistan.

Prior to assuming command of the United States Corps of Cadets as the 70th Commandant, General Caslen was the Deputy Director for the War on Terrorism, within the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate (J-5), The Joint Staff. In this position, he provided strategic, policy and planning guidance in support of the Global War on Terrorism to include combating weapons of mass destruction.

During the presentation, General Caslen remarked that the war on terrorism is global and not confined within the boundaries of Iraq. He pointed out the dichotomy between the extremists who misrepresent Islam as opposed to mainstream Islam. According to General Caslen, Al Qaeda, has a fourfold plan which includes:
  1. Expelling Americans from Iraq
  2. Establishing an Islamic authority unit it develops into a caliphate
  3. Extending jihad to secular countries neighboring Iraq
  4. Clashing with Israel because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity
General Caslen also stated that the long range intentions of these extremists included having:
  • The strongest army
  • The strongest currency
  • The largest country in the world
  • Atomic and super power
  • One half of the world population in an Islamic State
As a response to these radical extremists, he remarked that the National Strategic Framework of the United States for the Global War on Terrorism includes:
  • Protecting and defending the homeland and U.S. interests abroad
  • Attacking terrorists and their capacity to operate effectively at home and abroad
  • Supporting mainstream Islam's efforts to reject extremism
There is a war of ideas, a clash between extremism and mainstream Islam, and General Caslen stated that it will take time for an American victory. In order to achieve this end, America must:
  • Expand foreign partnerships
  • Strengthen the capacity to prevent terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction
  • Institutionalize domestically and internationally the war on terror
America must also have perseverance, not necessarily only combative, according to the General, and we must address:
  • Reversing grievances in the Muslim world
  • Discrediting violent extremist ideology
  • Building partnerships with other nations
In short, the strategic aims of a free and open society is to defeat violent extremism as a threat to freedom and to create an environment inhospitable to violent extremists and all who support them.

Read General Robert L. Caslen, Jr. Biography

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