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05 October 2014


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The Beaver


According to the BBC , Erdogan traded IS prisoners for the 49 hostages:


"Reports that UK jihadists were involved in a prisoner swap between Islamic State (IS) and Turkey are "credible", Whitehall officials have told the BBC."


Politics seems to be part of it.

Zero hedge reports Erdogan as saying according to Bloomberg.

For us, ISIL and the (Kurdish) PKK are the same,” Erdogan said in televised remarks today in Istanbul.

The quote is in the google cache (copy and paste the phrase above into google, you can see the comment), but has been removed from the Bloomberg story:


This supports political directives for pinpricks from POTUS, though why we are so sensitive to Erdogan's views is unclear.

Farmer Don

I recommend "The great Deformation". A huge volume which makes the case that, each President since Eisenhower & the Big Banks, have pushed the Fed for lower interest rates whenever they wanted the US Economy to perk up, instead of being fiscally responsible. The results are rates to zero, and now even QE (money printing)with no structural changes.

Get the audio version, an easier way to make it through this dense and sometimes repetitive book.

Have been following the Col. Lang's blog daily for years, and for the first time things are so convoluted in the Middle East, that it is all an incomprehensible muddle to me.


Col., thank you. My problem is primarily the shifting groupings of forces and the new groups sprouting up as reported in many of the news stories and analyses.



Let me ask the very stupid question, since someone has to do it: are there really no locals among the "friendlies" who could be used for JTAC purposes? Are the FSA and the "good" Kurds really that useless?


Le Monde suggests that this "intelligence officer" wasn't.



I have read the same also, in opposition Turkish press as well. One sources claims that the story has been leaked by government insiders.
If true, and I am convinced that it is, this may be a game changer. IS would have appreciated an extra 150 cannon fodder the day before US strikes has started on them. The implications here are enormous, all indications are pointing to a Turkish Army intervention over the border coincided with a IS tactical withdrawal. At the least several safe zones along the border, with restricted no fly zones over. If I did not know people would certainly be hurt, I would have called it Kabuki theatre. I am waiting to see if anyone would fall for it RTE's gambit.



"... all indications are pointing to a Turkish Army intervention over the border." I don't see that. If that were true the Turkish Army would be back behind that hill, not on the forward slope where they are now. They would be back there making preparations to advance. Fuel, ammunition, massing, etc. Arwa Damon the CNN reporter is standing on that forward slope with them looking at Kobane just across the wire. pl


Albayim, yes to your comment, true if this was about a real confrontation with IS. The tank company that was lined up over that hill was in parade formation, indicating they expect no real opposition, and IS was not particularly alarmed. It was act one of a play, second act is a move by both sides, like a fake gun fight at OK Corral, and all pressure on Turkey to act disappears and IS moves back for a few miles to regroup, and bide their time. Now that PYD is emasculated, and PKK unwilling to get involved, Turkey playing along and Kobane a cause celebre around the world, IS can concentrate elsewhere without losing face, but not too many resources. They made their point, and mixed the pot enough to avoid the only threat they value-Turkish Army going in, with Kurdish help, mad as hell, to finish them off.

The whole point of allocating so many resources for IS for Kobane was to connect West and East ends of their presence along Turkish-Syria border-but that has lost its importance now because of so much attention on Kobane-now they are under the radar so to speak. Therefore, in the eyes of IS, the attack on Kobane achieved all it could have, and even if it were to fall into their hands, it would not be a strategic victory, because they won't be able to utilize it.

At that particular stretch of the Turkish border, the roads are good, and bases numerous. Supply bases need not be so close to the frontline formations, especially given the lack of air threat. Letting Kobane fall, I think, will cost RTE more than interfering militarily, at minimum cost, and they have been signaling about that.

I still think that RTE government has an accommodation with IS, to leave each other alone, but otherwise posture to the rest of the world otherwise.

Anyway, as confused as all this is, this is my take-I am sure there are many holes in my above theory, but my solace is, whose theories do not have holes about this whole mess.



Yes, but this oh so useful kabuki drama is IMO a secondary attack. the big show is in Anbar. pl


I agree, they have been setting the pieces there under the radar for weeks now. When they capture Abu Gharib, and free the prison, then raze it with the help of a deconstructivist architect, and a web geek, then Kabuki will turn Vaudville.

FB Ali


"I still think that RTE government has an accommodation with IS, to leave each other alone...."

I agree about the understanding, but I believe it is about much more than leaving each other alone. If I get some time I'll try and write more about what I think it is.

G. I. Hazeltine

I have a question.

I spent quite a bit of time over the months following the war in Ukraine, and watched what must have been a couple of hours of video of destroyed Ukrainian trucks, APCs, grads and tanks. Tanks in shreds, blown to bits so to speak. As though Hell itself had fallen on an acre and destroyed it utterly, leaving the adjoining fields untouched.

And tanks and trucks on roads, every fifty yards or two another burned out skeleton.

What came to my mind was 'My god, this is shooting tanks in a barrel'.

I read that Poroshenko said that 60% of the Ukrainian armor had been destroyed.

With the separatists having no air at all.

In Kobane, ISIL has tanks and heavy artillery. The Kurds have none. What then is the confusion?

ISIL was outside the city, in plain view. The Kurds were inside the city.

So then, why not 'If it is a tank or an artillery piece outside the city, kill it.'

Given the Highway of Death, couldn't one or two or a handful of A10s have dealt with it all? In an hour, most of it?

If the answer is yes then things are not good, regardless of the 'explanation'.

And I wonder if any of these particular Kurds have been following the war in Ukraine, and have had any serious thoughts about whom in the world they might better trust. This sort of betrayal is not soon forgotten.

I think that this, strangely, might be a victory for Russia.


"And tanks and trucks on roads, every fifty yards or two another burned out skeleton.

What came to my mind was 'My god, this is shooting tanks in a barrel'."

I read a couple times that, unlike the Ukies, the saparatists loved to stay in the green, the fields and forrests.

If that means that the Ukies really did stick to roads with their armoured vehicles then indeed it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

They then would havbe squandered their inherent superior mobility and their ability to maneuver i.e. choose where to best fight.

With the Ukies limiting themselves to roads, all the Separatists would have had to do to deprive the Ukies of their mobility was to fell threes, place obstackes on the road, place mines, destroy leading and tailing vehicles.

That would have left the Ukies with two options only - forward or back, in a killzone for separatist artillery and anti-armour weapons. A bad place to be.

So to me this looks something like Motti tactics. A relevant precedent would have been the battle of Suomussalmi.

"Motti is Finnish military slang for a totally encircled enemy unit. The tactic of encircling it is called motitus, literally meaning the formation of an isolated block or "motti", but in effect meaning an entrapment or envelopment.
A motti in military tactics therefore means the formation of "bite sized" enemy units which are easier to contain and deal with.

This tactic of envelopment was used extensively by the Finnish forces in the Winter War and the Continuation War to good effect. It was especially effective against some of the mechanized units of the Soviet Army, which were effectively restricted to the long and narrow forest roads with virtually no way other than forwards or backwards. Once committed to a road, the Soviet troops effectively were trapped. Unlike the mechanized units of the Soviets, the Finnish troops could move quickly through the forests on skis and break columns of armoured Soviet units into smaller chunks (e.g., by felling trees along the road). Once the large column was split up into smaller armoured units, the Finnish forces attacking from within the forest could strike the weakened column. The smaller pockets of enemy troops could then be dealt with individually by concentrating forces on all sides against the entrapped unit.

A motitus is therefore a double envelopment manoeuvre, using the ability of light troops to travel over rough ground to encircle enemy troops on a road. Heavily outnumbered but mobile forces could easily immobilize an enemy many times more numerous.

By cutting the enemy columns or units into smaller groups and then encircle them with light and mobile forces, such as ski-troops during winter a smaller force can overwhelm a much larger force. If the encircled enemy unit was too strong, or if attacking it would have entailed an unacceptably high cost, e.g., because of a lack of heavy equipment, the motti was usually left to "stew" until it ran out of food, fuel, supplies, and ammunition and was weakened enough to be eliminated. Some of the larger mottis held out until the end of the war because they were resupplied by air. Being trapped, these units were therefore not available for battle operations.

The largest motti battles in the Winter War occurred at the Battle of Suomussalmi. Three Finnish regiments enveloped and destroyed two Soviet divisions as well as a tank brigade trapped on a road."



FB Ali, my theory that IS and RTE have an understanding to leave each other alone is the bare minimum of the accommodation I can deduce so far. Their affinity and plans may involve in reality much more than that. I think RTE will find himself as lead in " Servant of Two Masters", A commedia della arte play by Pirandelli.

But nevertheless, if you can find the time to expand on IS-RTE relationship, I will be looking forward to it.


"That would have left the Ukies with two options only - forward or back, in a killzone for separatist artillery and anti-armour weapons. A bad place to be."

Clarification, was supposed to read:

Staying on the roads left the Ukies with two options only - forward or back. And once under fire, they were stuck in a killzone for separatist artillery and anti-armour weapons. A bad place to be.

The Twisted Genius

G. I. Hazeltine,

I noticed the same phenomena in Novorossiya. Ukie armor and other vehicles were clobbered by what appeared to be sufficiently concentrated and well directed indirect fire. When that conflict was just starting up I noted a video of a well employed separatist mortar battery. I thought at that time that they were getting well schooled in the latest tactics of Russian artillery. The old picture of Russian artillery was always a massive number of tubes lined up hub to hub delivering a devastating rolling barrage. In contrast, our artillery relied on coordinated fires concentrated where and when needed. The Russians seemed to have taken that concept and run with it. We, on the other hand, have neglected our artillery and mortars in favor of airpower. This showed in the deployment of artillery battalions as infantry in Iraq and Afghanistan. Didn't Tyler talk about the lack of use of battalion mortar systems on those battlefields?

Given the speed and accuracy that modern technology provides to indirect fire, it's a shame we didn't prepare the Iraqi Army better in its use. The Kurds could sure use some of that stuff now rather than hoping for the occasional sortie from carriers hundreds of miles away. If IS starts using its captured artillery half as effectively as the separatists in Novorossiya, we are in for a world of hurt.



I've noticed this myself over the years about military acronyms. For example, while on active duty "load carrying equipment" underwent a change to "load bearing equipment". It may still be called this today, but I doubt it. There must be a staff somewhere whose sole duties consist of changing these abbreviations.


I read your question about "Stonewall" Jackson on the other thread. I don't know if he read Sun Tzu or not, but I do know that he carried a copy of "Napolean's Maxims" with him.

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