by Scott Mann

I was really angry when al Qa’ida extremist Hani Hanjour flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon and killed my Ranger Buddy, Major Cliff Patterson, along with 124 military and civilians.  I wasn’t alone.

Across the U.S., my military Brothers and Sisters leaned into our television sets to hear from our Commander in Chief on how we would exact our revenge on those who conducted this vicious attack on U.S. soil.

Shortly after the attacks of September 11th, 2001, a resolute President Bush addressed America from the halls of Congress.  In this address, he promised swift action to launch American Warriors into the fray against the “evil doers.”

Smiling inwardly in 2001, as I heard the President level this threat of retribution against violent extremists, that was just what most of us special operators wanted to hear as we intently packed and re-packed our kit waiting for the call to come in.

At the same time, President Bush also assured the nation that although we would pursue the terrorists who committed this act, it would not affect most Americans all that much.  This would be a war fought largely in the shadows by Special Operations, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence organizations.

He was right.  The call of war did come in to pursue these extremists… and then some.  Many of us deployed time after time for nearly fourteen years.

The U.S military and its allies prosecuted the Global War on Terror against Islamist violent extremists all over the world, killing and capturing thousands of them, and in relative comparison to past U.S. wars, with relatively small impacts on Americans at home.

Those days of the shadow war are gone, and the results from this approach are questionable at best.

Even with the death of al Qa’ida leader Usama bin Laden and the desire of the Obama Administration to pivot away from the Middle East toward cyber threats and the Pacific Rim, our most pressing enemy –Islamist violent extremists – still have a vote.

And their vote is to hold onto the U.S. firmly by the belt buckle and pull us deeper into this struggle of the ages.

The emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), especially with their digital storytelling through social media, has brought Islamist violent extremism out of the shadows, onto the world stage, and right into our communities.

This is now a war every American should pay attention to, and a national discussion should be joined.

ISIS, more so than any extremist group on the planet, is committed to an end of days scenario.  They are establishing a global caliphate with the intention of achieving the Islamic prophecy of ushering in judgment day.

In order to do that, they need a set piece battle of epoch proportions, and most importantly… they need to draw in the U.S. and its Western Allies as the starring role of Crusader.

This is precisely why we see the overt violence coming to us via Youtube of beheadings, burnings etc.  They want us to respond with large scale conventional force.  They need it to fulfill the prophecy.  This manufactured holy war is the essential lynch pin to the ISIS narrative for recruiting and for realizing their strategic objectives.

The challenge here is that this ideological commitment to audacious violence in order to achieve an apocalypse seems too far-fetched for most Americans and Westerners to believe.  Well, believe it.

Every American should consider the lengths ISIS will go to in order to draw us into their manufactured holy war.  It’s time for the U.S. Government and those of us prosecuting this fight to bring in the talent and capacity of the United States citizenry.

Unless we plan to follow the role of unwitting crusader that is being spun for us by these extremist myth entrepreneurs, we need to bring this war with ISIS and Islamist violent extremists out of the shadows and into the light.

Many Americans I talk to are tired of watching from the sidelines.  Many want to know more.  They want to understand the threat facing their communities.  They want to know how they can help.  Many want to vote in 2016 with a better understanding of this threat informing their decision.

Don’t get me wrong…whether or not we have boots on the ground is the wrong question.  We’re going to have boots on the ground.  The question, is “whose boots?”  We’ve got to adapt the fight to defeat violent extremists from the BOTTOM UP and top down.

Here is the deal though:  We can’t win against this threat without the full support of the American people.  We need Americans to demand change from our political, military, and diplomatic leadership.  We need broader authorities to push into the rough places and live among clans and tribes.  We need greater inter-agency collaboration and more transparent communication between political leadership and the American people on this issue.

To succeed we must:

– Acknowledge the threat we face – Islamist violent extremists – understand who they are, and how they operate – to include their critical vulnerabilities.

– Commit ourselves to defeating them.

– Build a multi-disciplined U.S. tribe of talent and experience that can isolate and render irrelevant this growing threat from the bottom-up and top down.

One thing is certain.  The actions we’ve taken for the last fourteen years of simply targeting violent extremists with lethal strikes, while America goes about its day to day business, are not working.  This group will go to any length to draw us into their perverse universe of violence and apocalyptic revelation.

Only by coming together as a Nation, opening our eyes to this emerging reality, and adapting how we fight them can we defeat this threat and protect our democratic ideals for our children.

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About The Author

Scott Mann has spent most of his entire adult life leaving tracks, and his mission in life is to help others do the same. His Dad, Rex Mann, refers to this as giving back to causes higher than yourself. He doesn’t know why he loves it so, but he does. He has served our great country for 23 years in the U.S. Army, most of that as a Green Beret doing missions all over the world. He fought three combat tours in Afghanistan, as well as in many other conflict zones such as Iraq and Colombia. His last few years in the Army, he was an architect and original implementer of the Special Operations Village Stability Operations (VSO)/Afghan Local Police (ALP) programs in Afghanistan. He also designed and implemented the popular SOCOM Academic Week training courses. Scott has commanded troops at several levels. At his last rank, lieutenant colonel, he made the tough decision to pass on his promotion to colonel and pursue other passions. It was one of the toughest but most rewarding choices he ever made. He is now the founder and CEO of the Stability Institute, where they broker knowledge and connecting stability professionals on complex stability issues around the globe. In concert with Institute President Howard Clark, he has built a vast network of stability practitioners who collaborate on unique solutions for government organizations, large corporations and even small businesses and individuals. As an entrepreneur, he built a multimillion-dollar real estate portfolio and property management company with his brother, who is his best friend and partner. They buy, turn around, and operate mobile home communities all over the state of North Carolina. He is blessed to put his entrepreneurial experience to use by mentoring transitioning Green Berets and other veterans in reaching their goals and dreams in the civilian sector. As an advocate, he is also the founder/CEO of Patriot Families, a nonprofit organization helping military families and wounded veterans at a grassroots level cope with the rigors of military deployments and family stress. He serves on the board of advisors for Stay in Step Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Center in Tampa, Florida, and Spirit of America, a nonprofit supporting our warriors and diplomats with stability missions abroad. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in Political Science. He has a Master’s Degree in Operational Art and Science from the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College. He lives in Riverview, Florida with his wife Monty and their three boys Cody, Cooper, and Brayden

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