Military Action Against ISIS (et al)

While I am not (ordinarily) a proponent of military action (in my youth I was, often for its own sake, but cannot justify that any more), I must say I am warming to it more recently. I find attacks on civilian targets, and civilised targets, to be abhorrent. The fact that two people wish to fight and kill each other is lamentable, but not generally our (in this case New Zealand’s) problem. However, that does not mean we are exempt from the need or capability of expeditionary warfare (if anything, it’s probably the only sort of war we will ever fight).

My reservations are as follows:

(1) We have no direct interest in the situation (NZ, itself, is an unlikely target and, even if we are attacked, the perpetrators are unlikely to escape – something the French themselves identified when they bombed us);

(2) The justification that we need to intervene, on humanitarian grounds, will lead us to a perpetual war against all uncivilised nations, organisations, and people’s (as a logical extension). I am not sure our role is international policeman and there are plenty of circumstance that will have just as much cause as the current to warrant direct action; and

(3) There will, inevitably, be consequences to our actions. It’s very easy to sit back and go, ‘Let’s pound them back to the stone age’ (not that they seem much further advanced), but we are actually discussing the deaths (a great many) of New Zealanders, our allies, foreign civilians, and our damnable enemy. This is not a decision to be taken lightly.

However, at the same time, I have no sympathy for the barbarians and I fail to see why we should let other civilised people die simply because it does not effect us directly. Instead, I would say that smashing the barbarians to smithereens’ would be both justifiable and probably very relieving. I don’t think it will be a short or easy task, but I note that we’ve been willing to send troops to fight other morons.

Now, how do we go about that fight? Well, here I’m a bit more conflicted. The Regular Force is likely to take the brunt of any immediate requirements, but I am tempted to say that we should do what New Zealand has done in the past and call up a Volunteer Force to deal with this specific challenge. This could involve raising troops for a specific Middle Eastern campaign (or anything else necessary to hunt and kill ISIS off), with the people relieved once that has been accomplished. Once returned, they could then transfer to the Regular or Territorial forces (I know, I know, it’s now the ‘Army Reserve’), or simply be mustered out and returned to civilian life.

This would thus set an objective and we could call up volunteer contingents based on actual requirements and to meet operational necessities. I am not specifically recommending an all ground force here, this could be in the form of logistical support, we could provide technical services, or whatever else is required (both at the New Zealand contingent level and as part of an allied coalition). I am sure many would like to fight directly, but it doesn’t have to be our sole contribution (and the Regular Army is far better suited to that task, as they already have the significant training involved).

Whatever the case, at the very least, expanding the size of our available reserves would be advisable at this point. New Zealand has allowed itself to become very happy in peace and long may it return, but as the world becomes more dangerous, and we find that the barbarians are coming out of the woodwork, we need to have sufficient trained people to handle any threat we may face or need to respond to. The current arrangements are limited and do not enable a large reserve force to be maintained (on a standing basis, let alone expanding it during emergencies).