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16 September 2014


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You have to hope that all this is a smokescreen for doing as little as possible. Under this scenario, Obama felt pressured by the media and the interventionists to "do something." After all isn't America the indispensable nation? To do nothing would obviously "make America dispensable."

So, under this scenario, Obama is halfheartedly doing enough to get through the election and kick the can down the road to his successor.

Unfortunately, Obama's "lead from behind" modus operendi suggests that, even if he intends to kick the can down the road, he won't be able to pull it off. After all, we are talking Obama here, the man who mostly voted "present" in the Illinois Senate, made a career of being "present," and who will be judged as having been little more than "present" during his "presidency."

ex-PFC Chuck

God help us! If there is one. And if she's not rolling on the floor laughing so hard she's incapable of doing anything.


Col. Lang, and to my sorrow, our moronic right wing failed priest of a Prime Minister, has committed a Squadron of F18 Super hornets and Six hundred troops to the fight.

William R. Cumming

PL thanks for this brilliant post. Will the word CRUSADE be entered soon into the Presidential race of 2016?

Will some wit in Congress be asking who lost Turkey, Syria, Iraq, etc. even sooner?



This post proves that sarcasm and satire can be communicated over the internet. A skilled wordsmith is a joy to read on the screen as well as on paper. You’re into Jonathan Swift’s Area of Operations:

It is not mentioned anymore but the important military metrics are still the body count and the money flow. Politics, containment, and conversion (hearts and minds) have all been abandoned. If it is just bodies, then the death rate has to be higher than the birth rate. We are nowhere near succeeding with this metric; except perhaps in the rubble of Damascus suburbs. Never mentioned in the briefings or on corporate media is that a military victory over the Islamic State requires that every village, town and city in the Northern Tigris and Euphrates river valleys be reduced to rubble and that troops have to fight through the rubble; each a new Fallujah.


I'm glad that arrowing across a photo on SST usually gives the source. It's Zulu, but with my poor vision I kinda thought it was from The Man Who Would Be King. In it's own way, that would be equally if not more suitable.

alba etie

Could the best course of action be to do nothing until the neighbors decide its their collective asses on the line most immediately



It is mislabeled. It is from the man Who would be king. Gonville Bromhead in Zulu was a lieutenant. pl


Colonel -- thanks for the correction.
I didn't think Sean the Scot was in Zulu,
but who am I to doubt Institutionalized
Authority -- the photowallahs, that is?
(Unless, of course, I'm putting together an assessment.)
Yes, TMWWBK is a much better reference.



We Americans can't get enough of the ME honeypot no matter how badly or how many times we have been stung.

The allure of exceptionalism dwarfs all realism.

The Twisted Genius


The plan may have hit its first snag. Here's a report that the FSA said they won't take on IS.


The Twisted Genius


I guess I'm too old fashioned for Washington. Chuck and Marty are fine in their offices or at the club, but in an official function it should be Secretary and General.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

I didn't watch the full hearing but I did hear 'Marty' say that he hoped the FSA would first tackle the IS and then take on the SAG (of course, he was immediately challenged on this by McCain). This indicates that the general expects the US campaign in Syria, air and ground, to be directed against the IS.

That makes some sense. If Assad is clever, he will make a lot of noise about sovereignty but let it happen without getting in the way. Of course, McCain and Co. will push hard for taking both on. While they can be ignored, what about Allen and people lower down who believe in the McCain mantra? All it takes is one incident to start a spiral. That would lead to your worst case scenario of the US spending several years in Syria trying to do COIN. The jihadis will love it!

There is also the longer term scenario of Hillary (or a Republican) adopting the McCain strategy down the road (this thing is likely to go on for quite some time). Back to square one!


Gotta' say how much I appreciate these overview posts, and the sarcastic touches rightly applied.


As thr Colonel says, its getting surreal at this point to see the cluelessness of those "in charge".


Colonel, this is shaping as a multi-track effort at combatting ISIL on the one hand, while at the same time effecting regime change in Syria and rolling back Iran's influence in the region.

It's a quite ambitious, maximalist approach towards seizing upon the opportunities afforded by the 2014 Northern Iraq Offensive..

But is it a realistic approach? Personally, I think it stacks up quite a bit of additional risks, many of which which attributable to factors you identified in your post "too many moving parts..." There's also the risk down the road if and when the strategy fails and American ground troops are required, amid a multi-dimensional conflict.

Peter C

During the Marty and Chuck show on the hill, the only truth spoken was by the woman in the pink shirt saying "this whole thing is happening because of invading Iraq" as she was shown the door.


"You have to hope that all this is a smokescreen for doing as little as possible."

My first thought.

Mark Logan

FB Ali,

If Assad is really, really clever, he might covertly form his own "rebel group" and make this a real comedy.

I guess we must hope Dempsey is merely humoring a boss or bosses who have to see their idea attempted and fail before they will let go of it.


Colonel Lang:

I know you tell us to take these people at their misbegotten word but I can no longer do that.
Maybe it's the Syrian in me.

This IS a smoke screen. Saudi Arabia put out word that it will take '10 years to fight ISIS'.

That is code for 'we want a Sunni state in the area controlled by ISIS'. Baghdadi is just a useful idiot to that end.

The 'coalition' is in on this and the only one that is calling them out right now is Khamenei.

It's a sad state of affairs.

Charles Dekle

Last year I worked on a team with senior oversight by a retired four star general. He was very personable and I like him a lot. We were on a first name basis. He called me Charles and I called him general. It is an old joke but I could not help myself.

Charles Dekle


Here is the OLFSC revealing a little too much:

Should we break out the smelling salts?

Col Lang,
Thanks for the great discussion. As I have mentioned before this is not my field but you and the other contributors here have opened my eyes to a great deal.

Kind regards,


In what sense has Turkey abandoned NATO? The Turks are under no treaty obligation to fight the IS, an entity which has not attacked a NATO country.


Maybe the idea behind training the 5400 men of the Bay of Pigs Brigade is to delay having to do anything about Syria and Assad now and leaving that decision to Obama's successor.

A year training, that's well into the first term of the next president. May he/she/it wants do something with these guys. Or not.

The peril here is that inded the US decide to send these men to their doom for lack of a better idea. After all, US foreign policy does have a demonstrated tendency to run on tracks, and once a US policy train gains momentum, it keeps rolling.

Perhaps the US should afford themselves some locomotive driver who can recognise an imminent trainwreck when they see it and bother to use the brakes. Just a thought.

When the Bay of Pigs Brigade fails, McCain & Cie will then use as a reason to call or an all out invasion of Iraq, err, Syria, because the sanctions didn't work, err, because Saddam, Assad hid his WMD, and the swine just killed 5400 fine unicorns, and Ameica would lose face if they let him get away with that, and, and.


Please Colonel!
It's Lt Gonville Bromhead VC !
And "what's his name" is Korean war veteran Sir Michael Caine

But a good post I particularly like the " what there are two sorts of Islam?"

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