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13 February 2015


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Doug Tunnell

Col. Lang,
In your opinion should the same kind of "direct shipment" arrangements apply to the Anbar tribal leaders who were shopping for arms in Washington last month ?


r whitman

Time frames of 4 to 8 months and 6 to 18 months are about as vague and nonsensical as you can get. That's magical thinking not journalism.

Charles I

Four to eight months? There has been recent official blather in the MSM about a spring offensive. Where I live spring starts in late March early April.



"Former Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Obeidi says the planned spring offensive to retake provinces captured by the self-declared Islamic State is unrealistic because Iraqi military forces need a year of training before embarking on such a mission. Even then, Iraqi forces will need substantial outside assistance in the form of close-air support, army aviation assets, and logistical help to mount a cohesive battle against the militant group, Obeidi said during a recent interview with Foreign Policy."



Doug Tunnell

No. The geography is quite different and the Baghdad government sees these Sunni tribes as enemies. Those deliveries should be made from us through the Jordanians. The western Iraq desert is a big place, and one in which Jordanian beduin police and soldiers are well equipped to operate. pl


As to Pollack and Ignatius, no need to bother with a full brainwash when a quick rinse would do


Col. apologies if this is a dumb question, but what are the prospects of the Jordanian army moving east-northeast right into the flank of ISIS Iraq? Would there be historic Sunni tribal sympathies?



As I told a Newsweek fellow yesterday, IMO Jordan lacks the logistical sustainment capabilities to conduct a campaign in Syria or Iraq without continuing major US assistance. Like the Israelis they are an army that never developed power projection capabilities since they operate out of their home stations. Cross desert operations delivering goods to the Anbar tribes is a much easier thing for them to do. pl



Sir, I disagree.

I think the US shall go from the area and leave the area to the locals. I'm pretty sure General Suleimani has an idea what to do with the mess, and I'm also pretty sure he is capable to do so. I doubt the US military - which had a major role in creating the mess in 2003 - can do anything helpful to solve the mess. There was just too much incompetence and too much needlessly spilled blood to restore trust. So, my counter proposition: give General Suleimani a chance to solve the mess.

If the US really wants to be helpful to get stability in that region the best way I'ld see as pushing through with the P5+1 nuke deal. It would strengthen Iran's efforts to solve the mess. Of course, some in the US may see hegemony as their goal and that's the reason they want to put in more military assets. But I doubt it will work. There were just too many bloody stupidities to make the local people accept US hegemony.


The infamous "Friedman unit" returns!



I don't know what you are disagreeing with. IMO the US should do just enough to smash IS/Nusra in a local coalition and then withdraw from the whole region. Who said anything about hegemony? pl

Babak Makkinejad

Suleimani has put the future of ISIS in the hands of "Sunni Youth".

The way I read it, Iraqi Shia or Iranians are not going to assault ISIS.


Dear Colonel,

from the WSJ article:

“Eight guys going after al-Asad—that is a suicide mission. They have no chance,” said a U.S. defense official. .....

Of course the official comments are spin, but this was (IMO) an ISIS test of defenses and reactions (probing with pawns - as they have consistently done around the region). One wonders what was learned (by ISIS). It seems this is an indication ISIS understands better our center of gravity is than we understand theirs (still). Seems like US forces are being deployed (once again in Iraq) for political reasons rather than for strategic reasons (there is no strategy).

This lack of strategic thinking also continues with US bear baiting in Ukraine, where the US advisors support Kiev forces outrunning their support logistics and getting trapped (again) in a Cauldron.



"IMO the US should do just enough to smash IS/Nusra in a local coalition and then withdraw from the whole region."

Well, that's exactly where the disagreement is. I think the US military shall withdraw from the whole region NOW, not just after "smashing IS/Nusra in a local coalition" - but just now. Give the locals of Western Asia a chance to sort it out themselves. After past bad experiences the US military is not met by locals in Western Asia with the level of trust necessary to achieve it's goals, whatever good intentions there may be.

"Who said anything about hegemony?"

Well, that's exactly where I see a big problem diminishing trust. While almost nobody in the US - and especcially not in the pliant mass media - speaks about hegemony, altruistic motives seem not to be major driving forces of US foreign policy, especially when military force is involved. Today, people around the world hear more or less the message that the US military in Iraq - also operating in Syria - is fulfilling the task of altruistically contributing to stability and prosperity of western Asia. But who believes this message?

I don't, and I'm pretty sure many - most - locals in Western Asia do neither. I'm pretty sure the US uses it's exepesive military assets in Western Asia not for altruistic motives, but for hegemony. Well, and that's exactly the reason for the lack of trust I spoke about in the beginning of this comment. There's no way to restore trust than by leaving, not after a long operation to smash IS/Nusra, but asap - now.

And, if hegemony would be no US foreign policy goal, I could imagine many things where the US military could achieve more success than pacifying Western Asia, eg building bridges, highways, hi-speed rail, etc in Northern America.

Charles I

Just got this al-monitor report on urdish attitudes towards arms and co-operation with Iraqi national forces, mainly negative per previous experience and fear of losing gains to date amidst anti-ISIS campaign setting well armed southerners into combat on "Kurdish" territory. Nobody trusts Kirkuk, let alone Baghdad.

"Kurds strongly reject the formation of any rival armed units in the parts of northern Iraq that are known as disputed territories to which Kurdish, Sunni Arab, Turkmen and Shiite Arab populations lay claims. Most of the disputed territories are now under the control of Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Members of the other communities want to play a role in the security arrangements of those areas and hope that the National Guard will become a vehicle for their return to the security scene in disputed territories.

But fearful that the birth of other armed groups can weaken their control over those areas amid a difficult war with IS and give rise to chaotic outcomes, the Kurds have resisted the idea of other competing forces in the disputed territories."



I feel for those marines in Ramadi. I wouldnt be surprised if the situation was worst than let on.

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