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12 November 2014

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The Virginian

Supporting the Sunni tribes in Anbar is certainly a worthy tactic, as it will - even if not successful in seeing the retaking of territory in the near / medium term - further disrupt Daesh operations, fix them in relative place (limit new expansion) and provide useful intelligence insights to Coalition forces as the SST group has noted. I wouldn't think the types of weapons needed by the tribes would include things like MANPADs or conventional armor, artillery, etc - anti-armor / light standoff weapons plus a mix of light to heavy Russian-type machine guns, etc. plus training seem more essential (and realistically usable by these types of irregulars), but I defer to COL Lang and others on this. The tactic might also serve to placate to some degree concerns of regional Sunni monarchies that the US is solely supportive of Shia power. That said, such a tactic is not a substitute for a strategy, but should fit within a framework that looks at containment of Daesh as part of a broader rethink on what role the West / US should play in the region in relation to other priorities.

Baghdad is not a reliable partner in such a tactic, as in addition to the lack of trust the Iraqi military and intelligence agencies have limited capacity to manage or support such an operation - Maliki hollowed out what capacity was built, however limited, during the US interregnum. It is also critical to appreciate that such action will impact local inter- and intra-tribal dynamics as they compete against each other for control over local / provincial economies (ex. control of smuggling routes, highways, water / food resources, access to US / Coalition largesse, etc) in addition to either fighting, supporting or running from Daesh. In other words such support shifts how the tribes interact with each other as much as with Daesh, Baghdad, etc. The US / Coalition may, if the disparate Sunni tribes and political groups can find common cause beyond opposition to Baghdad and Daesh, see more calls for either an autonomous model akin to the KRG or more thus adding new wrinkles (this in parallel with some Shia groups calling for autonomy in Iraq's core oil producing areas in the south / south central provinces). Of course such things are linked to Syria plus the interests of other regional powers, plus larger dynamics relating to Iran's nuclear program, the falling away of Turkey as an ally, and efforts by royal families in Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries to hold onto power and deflect the threats to their rule posed by secularists and religious radicals.

All of this in parallel with shifts in US - Russia - Europe - China relations demands even greater focus on thinking beyond today and tomorrow, something few in Western capitals seem to be able to do effectively in recent years.

alba etie

Col Lang
Perhaps this could be the beginning of the post Sykes Picot stabilization of the Mesopeatamia, if not the ME . An independent KAR & Anbaristan might be good building blocks for a new Concert of ME Nations . And somewhat related news CNN is reporting IDF Border Guards may be indicted for murdering two Palestinian Youths on the West bank last year . It seems the murder was taped on a CCTV from a shop owner .

bth

While IS has enjoyed interior lines to date, if tribal uprisings could cut the roads at vulnerable spots, IS mobility could be impaired quickly. Also supplies run through checkpoints that demand payment to IS and if one of those lines is cut there might be a ripple effect in IS tax revenue.

turcopolier

bth

My experience of UW ops like this indicates that a conventional or semi-conventional force like IS can be severely discomfited by exactly the kind of interferences with lines of communications, depots, governmental facilities, etc. In such an effort the UW force must never become decisively engaged. If it does it is likely to be destroyed. A UW effort like this does not win wars independent of other actors but it can contribute various benefits. pl

turcopolier

Virginian

"...anti-armor / light standoff weapons plus a mix of light to heavy Russian-type machine guns, etc. plus training seem more essential (and realistically usable by these types of irregulars" Yes, heavier equipment is generally an impediment to survival in a situation that demands an ability to withdraw quickly. pl

turcopolier

b

Looks like our suggestion is mirrored in others' thinking. I worry that the Iraqi Army is not a reliable enough force for base defense in Anbar. pl

turcopolier

Babak

"To what end?" This question is one that we attempt to address here as well as less elevated spheres of military and geopolitical action. In this case the national Command Authority of the US has evidently decided to pursue the folly of simultaneously re-uniting Iraq, fighting IS and Nusra while seeking the destruction of the Syrian government. In that context we simple soldiers must struggle to find some way to implement a policy conceived by fools. pl

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

I agree that using our unconventional warfare assets, particularly SF Teams, to aid the Sunni tribes in rebelling against IS control makes tactical sense. Strategically, can we answer the question the tribes might ask as to what can we (the US) do for them in the long term?

Also, in reports this morning, the US administration is sticking with the mantra that says the Syrian government must be destroyed in order to defeat IS. It's utter nonsense dreamt up by buffoons.

WPFIII

Babak Makkinejad

Would not defeat of ISIS mean the destruction of large parts of Raqqa and Mosul and Fallujah requiring hundreds of light tanks, tens of airplanes, hundreds of helicopter gunships?

Babak Makkinejad

You can always threaten them that in case of attack traced to them on the United States you will obliterate Mosul and Raqqa and Fallujah.

Babak Makkinejad

I repeat again, an independent Kurdistan was revealed to be a sheer fantasy on the field of battle.

Nancy K

I hope you aren't referring to the Blackwater contractors who shot randomly at Civilians, or the US soldier who while out of his mind on booze and pills went out and murdered a large number of women and children. These people deserve Leavenworth. I guess I am unsure as to which honorable warriors you are referring to.
It wasn't just Obama and Carter who broke the ME. Take a good look at Cheny/Bush.

confusedponderer

As a result it would do hit and run attacks, much like what the LRDG did to the Africa Corps in North Africa during WW-II, just this time with bigger Toyotas and bigger guns?

turcopolier

CP

Yes, somewhat like the LRDG or SAS in the desert but these units were made up of British Empire soldiers and had no real base in the local people. In this case the raiders would be the local people with US support. pl

turcopolier

NancyK

The US has been working on breaking the ME since Truman recognized Israel. pl

turcopolier

Babak

When did it happen that the impossibility of an independent Kurdistan was demonstrated on the battlefield? pl

turcopolier

Babak

I do not think that they would believe such threats. We must remember that IS/Nusra are not really existential threats to the US. What is the most they can do? Take out mid-town Manhattan? pl

Babak Makkinejad

When ISIS was about to capture Irbil and Iranians prevented that.

Piotr, Poland

@Col Lang

Your feeilings about IS/Saudi Arabia begin to materialise.
Today ME story of the day in Poland is Al-Baghdadi's speech, calling all the jihadists to attack Saudi Arabia, and saying that Libya, Algeria, Yemen and Egypt should be part of the caliphate too.

Congratulations for your sharp analysis , but You probably hoped to be wrong about it, I suppose

makosog

To me, by letting the Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis and the tribes do the fighting, this will give rise to camaraderie among them and thus engender unity amongst them.

And also this would mean a piecemeal destruction of ISIS, in w/c it would find it hard to recover.

Of course, we have to give them help in whatever form they request from us.

The beaver

Colonel:

Dempsey: US considering sending combat troops to help Iraqis fight Islamic State

http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/dempsey-us-considering-sending-combat-troops-to-help-iraqis-fight-islamic-state-1.314096
"The U.S. military is considering sending a limited number of American ground forces to fight alongside Iraqi troops as they launch complex missions to regain territory lost to Islamic State militants, the country’s top military officer said Thursday."

makosog

There is an ongoing peace negotiation between Ocalan, the head of the Syrian Kurdistan Party and Turkey now. Maybe an autonomous Kurdistan is the answer.

6th-generation Texan

"Take out mid-town Manhattan?"

If they agree to take out DC inside the Beltway as part of a package deal, then I say roll out the red carpet and help them get over here ASAP.

The psychopath banksters and politicians in NY and DC are far worse enemies to ordinary American citizens than ISIS could ever hope to be in their wildest dreams.

And this is not hyperbole; I am deadly serious about wanting to see these worthless parasites removed from the body politic by whatever means it takes -- and there aren't enough lampposts to hang them all from....

makosog

Why could they not put a Shiite-Sunni combination as an army? The camaraderie that that would engender would be enough to unify them.

turcopolier

Babak

Ah. I did not know it had been as close as that. pl

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