Ash Carter Shares Key Lessons from Campaign against ISIS

Ash Carter, former secretary of defense

In a report for the Belfer Center, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter explained some of the challenges he inherited in the fight against ISIS and lessons learned from overcoming those hurdles.

Key lessons include:

  • Good strategy depends on honest assessment. No matter how painful.
  • Metrics are motivating. “Against a barbaric enemy like ISIS, what mattered most was results,” Carter said.
  • No timetables. These are often counterproductive and provide impractical deadlines to campaigns.
  • “Lines of effort” are no substitute for strategy. The campaign against ISIS would only be successful with concrete steps arranged into a battle plan.
  • Personal relationships are essential. Carter stressed hard-earned trust and personal bonds led to allies stepping up against a shared enemy.
  • Victory must be built to last. For the campaign against ISIS to be truly successful, it needed a different battle plan. The success would be measured not only by the defeat of ISIS but by the long-term security.

To read the lessons learned in their entirety, click here.

To read the entire report for the Belfer Center, click here.


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