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07 August 2014


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alba etie

Given your experience in SW Asia in recent years - what would you recommend be done to counter the IS threat in the region - if anything ? You and me my differ vigorously on some domestic matters but I have come to respect and rely on your persepective regarding our overseas misadventures.

alba etie

Col Lang
Would there be any chance that a regional solution could be crafted to counter the IS threat? It does appear that al Baghdadi and Cohort pose a clear and present danger to all the neighbors. I guess the first step in seeking a regional solution would be These United States stop supporting the 'moderate' rebels in Syria . We really need to stop 'repeating old behaviors and expecting different results " regarding IS - that much is clear . Would it also be militarily possible to stop the IS from taking Erbil without some country other country deploying ground forces in support of the Kurds ? As an aside I still keep wondering why the "West " cannot craft a deal with al Douri to put an end to the IS kaliphate .


The Turkish Army could, if Erdogan wanted them to, do something substantial about it. Probaly, the Turkish army would be up to that in terms of equipment, training and manpower.

They could not relieve Kirkuk without advancing deeply into Iraq.

If I imagine a Turkish intervention, the city of Al Qualimshi at the Sytian Turkish border seems to be a key city to me.

Taking Al Qualimshi the Turks could cut ISIS lines of communication along the border between Syria and Turkey betwen Raqqa and Mosul. That'd deny ISIS control of the airport there and the roads 712/6 and the M4 motorway.

That would push ISIS to have to rely on the road 47 that runs through Sincar and Tal Afar for movement. How big a disavantage that would be I can't tell. It would depend on how well the desert beyond the roads can be used by vehicles. I don't know that. But at the least it would make resupply more difficult, and all transport would take longer.

The Turks could then move in direction of of Al Hasakah along the Nahr al Khabur river. They would from that position threaten Raqqa and Mosul, which would be ~150km off.

I don't know how much time it would take a, say, mechanised brigade to move that distance in that terrain. Not too long, I guess.

/leans back in his armchair

But the odds are, Erdogan doesn't want to help Assad, or the Kurds for that matter. And then there is the matter of the Turks and the Ottoman Empire and all that.



If you want to build an effective local coalition of forces against IS (a concert of the Middle East?) you have to stop trying to unseat the governments who are the only possible basis for such a coalition; Iran, Turkey, whatever government exists in Iraq, Jordan, Syria (Bashar), Egypt, Kuwait (for the basing), Saudi Arabia (for the money and basing), Qatar (for the basing). To bring these forces together, Obama's government would have to acknowledge the folly of its college bull session foreign policy over the last six years. That Children's Crusade, driven by the social disease of utopian social science fantasies unseated Mubarak and thus began the unraveling of the system of nation states in the ME. In the absence of that system of governments, the underlying traditional loyalties which were suppressed by the nation states have re-emerged with a vengeance. Will Obama have sense enough to reverse his policy? I doubt it. pl


I am beginning to see multiple references to how 'surprised' 'experts' are with the retreat of the Kurdish armed forces. And that Irbil 'could possibly fall' is coming as a big surprise. In your opinion Col, or any other Committee member here, to what extent, if any, is an intel failure on the part of the US? Or do you think there were plenty (or some)people sharing their opinion on the weakness of the Kurds, but that wisdom was rejected or ignored by naive Gang?



Policy types in any government ignore the opinions of the intelligence types when they don't like bad news. Then, having made bad decisions they blame the intelligence people and rely on them to help clean up the mess. pl



Such things do not exist, and, IMO, they will not. The marketing difficulties in trying to sell pre-sabotaged equipment will always prevent that. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I do not know; you must ask Sunni Muslims.



Without USAF and Army aviation An Loc could not have been held in 1972. Binh Long Province was within my AOR on a previous tour so I knew the place well. Therefore the Army sent me up there during the battle when I returned in April. I spent a week there coordinating intelligence during the battle. The 5th ARVN Division and the rest of the gaggle were so very outnumbered by three enemy divisions including my old "friends" the 7th NVA (IMO the best division the enemy had). I had fought them in Phuoc Long Province at Ap Bu Nho among other places three years before and here they were again with the 141st NVA regiment practically on the airfield this time with tanks and lots of artillery. After a week my headquarters pulled me back to do something else. I was ready to leave. pl


I am much inclined to believe you.

Still, when I take a good sip of cynicism and put on my tinfoil hat ...

I see that in light of an observable general lack of self-restraint in the US government could well induce someone on the political side to come up with a scheme like that.

The US gvt does many things for perhaps no better reason but because they can or for mere expedience. They appear to be quite oblivious or indifferent to the inevitable and predictable adverse consequences when it comes out. That bit is never part of the plan.

Look at the hit US computing companies took when it became public to which extent they cooperated with the NSA, and that they had, indentionally, left open back doors into their products.


The thing with the deterrence through treat of punishment is always that a crook almost always expects to get away. Getting caught comes back to bite the Izzies where it hurts every second week or so.

I'll put my tinfoil hat back on the shelf now.

I guess it's one thing with software and web services and another with arms.


I understand, and sympathize, with your view on PM's. But they have had a decade plus window to start learning about 'modern warfare', and to purchase weapons. And they have pick up trucks, machine guns, and the like, right? That had time and oil revenue to buy arms. And ISIS is now probably defending lines as long and varied as the Kurds are.

The Kurds had to know that sooner or later some *organized force* was gonna come knocking. I think, to certain extent, and I hope I am not being harsh about it, they always thought, and think, that we are gonna step in and intervene. And our track record on that is spotty. To say the least.


Its surreal to me that Tyler that we have basically set up the no fly zone again. This was a secondary rationale for the Iraq War in the first place. 'how long were we gonna have to keep flying missions over the no fly zone' 'how much it costs'....blah blah blah. 'lets go to the source'. Well, here we are back again. Second verse, same as the first?

William R. Cumming

So Congress in recess and US air strikes launched in Iraq!

So is the US FP to protect all Christians world wide?

Is this a de facto CRUSADE?

William R. Cumming

PL! So long before the US pullout in 1975 NVA conventional forces fully employed against ARVN and USA forces?


Agreed, agreed. But I would sure like to know, if, in this particular case, as in the creation and swift movement of IS in Iraq, this came as news to "The Children's Crusade" crowd (my legal advice is you ought to trademark that gem), or did the CC disregard something specific and on the record.

alba etie

Col Lang
Two word Dick Cheney - and we apparently are still cleaning up his mess..

alba etie

Col Lang
We shall see. The Children's Crusade has been a clusref--ck ...And yes in retrospect the Ottoman Empire was a good political structure given today's chaos . Thank you Sykes & Picot ..


Very Very true, in a nutshell youve hit the proverbial nail on the head



Our major concern is not about native Christians or Yazidis, Druze, Alawis or whatever. IS threatens the existing state structure in the region in its desire t create a theocratic universalist state of its own design. The KRG is about all that is really left as possible political "anchor" in Iraq. That's why Obama has been forced into trying to use air power (in a half assed way) to try to keep IS from capturing Erbil. pl




A timeline:

1963 - US COIN efforts have a good deal of success in RVN against VC Agitprop, guerrillas and regular troops.

1964 - North Vietnam decides that to halt COIN success it must intervene with the full weight of its regular forces (NVA). It does so bringing several regular army divisions into RVN

1965 - LBJ responds by introducing US ground combat forces into RVN at RVN government request. Major battles are fought between US Army and USMC forces and the NVA/VC regulars team. (Ia Drang Valley is one example).

1965-1972 Major combat continues between heavy forces of the US/ARVN team and the NVA/VC team. At the same time US presses ahead with largely successful COIN effort throughout the countryside. Several major offensive by NVA/VC take place (Tet 1968, Tet 1969, Tet 1972) These are defeated militarily but the US people decide they have had enough. US gradually withdraws from country in "slices." By Spring 1972 there were very few US combat forces left in country and most of them had been destroyed in morale by leftist propaganda in the US.

1972-1973 Peace talks in Paris break down when the NVN delegation walks out. B-52 campaign (Linebacker II)against NVN brings them back and an armistice is signed under which the NVA withdraw to border enclaves and all remaining US combat forces leave the country. I was one of the last to leave in March, 1973. We left behind 2,000 Advisers for the ARVN attached to US Embassy, Saigon.

1974 - In response to some minor incident the US Congress cuts off all future aid to RVN.

1975 - NVA attack and overrun RVN. pl

William R. Cumming

Thanks PL!



Which nail was that? pl


Col. Lang, Sir

In your opinion what is the US national interest that we should be concerned that the existing state structure in the ME is threatened? Is this the same interest for China and Russia?

Considering that we set the ball rolling with the destabilization of Iraq and Syria can we put the genie back in the bottle?



It is not in our interest to accept the establishment of a region wide theocratic state that will be inherently anti-American and which will wage war against us. pl



"So is the US FP to protect all Christians world wide?"

No, it is still "regime change". Read the great stateswoman Samantha Power's latest ultimatim to Russia:


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