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17 June 2015

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The Twisted Genius

Thanks for this Patrick. I've been looking at some videos of tactics and weaponry used by the YPG recently around Tal Abyad. I see a lot of similarities with ISIS tactics, except for the coalition air strikes of course.

This style of warfare should not be unfamiliar to the U.S. military. Here is a series of short articles describing the American experience of warfare in old New England. The entire website is interesting if you enjoy that kind of thing... which I do.

http://www.snowshoemen.com/node/26
http://www.snowshoemen.com/node/27
http://www.snowshoemen.com/node/28

William R. Cumming

Thanks as always P.B. for you insights. ISIS seems to be a LEARNING ORGANIZATION but can the same be said for the COALITION?

The Twisted Genius

The ISIS reliance on a courier network is admirable. I wonder if this is supplemented by field wire networks, especially on the defense. In the 25th Division, we practiced battalion level offensive and defensive operations in complete radio silence using field wire.

Patrick Bahzad

TTG,

Other main difference with YPG would be SVBIEDs ... And Intel capabilities !

Gonna have a look at those links, thx ;-)

Patrick Bahzad

WRC,

Yes coalition is learning of course. But sometimes knowng where the problem is doesn't mean you can fix it ...

Patrick Bahzad

TTG,

Given some of the people in charge in IS are soviet trained, I wouldn't be surprised if they used field wire.

The Twisted Genius

Ah yes, the SVBIEDs (or car bombs as we once called them). Saw a good video of YPG using a 12.7 anti-material rifle of Kurdish manufacture and a 23mm cannon firing aimed single shots to take out distant ISIS vehicular traffic. Not sure if they were approaching SVBIEDs or not.

Medicine Man

A quick question, TTG: What does "YPG" mean?

Tyler

PB,

Excellent article, as is your par. As much of a "how to" manual for how one fields a guerilla organization against a high tech enemy as it is a description of an effective fighting force.

Patrick Bahzad

Knowing your enemy is the first step towards defeating him ... Implementation is often the more tricky part though !

The Beaver

MM

YPG : Syrian Kurds

Cee

Patrick

Identifying all of your adversaries is key. I'm on the move and can't post but Robert Fisk wrote about who they are in The Guardian.

Fred

TTG,

Interesting read. When was the last time ISAF raided into ISIS territory?

turcopolier

PB et al

Very contributory and useful work. I am struck by the resemblances between the IS way of war and that of the Polisario Front in the '80s and '90s against the Moroccans. The Polisario were/are a guerrilla army and political movement of the Arabized Berber tribesmen who revolted against morocco after it occupied the former Spanish territory of Rio de Oro south of the original Morocco. In refugee camps in Algeria the Sahrawis (Polisario)organized themselves into a desert army. In doing this they had a lot of help from the Algerian government. The army that they formed was equipped with a wide variety of armored and motorized vehicles (old tanks, APCs, trucks, Land Rovers, etc.) These vehicles were all armed and carrying fighters. With this force the Sahrawis could maneuver for hundreds of miles across the Sahara Desert in widely dispersed small columns communicating by low wattage hand held radios that could not be intercepted by ground level Moroccan intercept stations. The Moroccans did not have airborne intercept and the "ground lobe" of Sahrawi signals were not audible to them. The Moroccans eventually built a long earthen berm to seal off the border against the Sahara Desert but the Sahrawis would mass just short of a section of the berm, assault it (usually at night) capture the Moroccan garrisions nearby, execute them and then withdraw across the desert at high speed dispersing into their many small units as they went. The Moroccans had an excellent army but they never learned to deal with this method. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polisario_Front pl

mbrenner

Knowing your enemy is the first step towards defeating him....

Is this context, that truism seems to have a double meaning:1)ISIL's tactical adjustment to American air strikes; and 2) the so-called "coalitions" less adapative learning from experience and PB's acute analysis (presumably done as well by the US Army). To this amateur's mind, that still leaves the question of the kind of strategic and tactical interaction between the two sides which has occurred. One issue is that it appears hard to assess with full confidence how good ISIL is militarily given the pathetic weakness of the opposition. They win most of the time but when facing an enemy that will fight - as at Kobane and around Tikrit - they lose. However either fits in their overall scheme, they do not look unbeatable. The other issue is the erratic use of airpower. That remains a mystery - but I have yet to see an explanation for the erratic, ill-timed pattern that has been observed. Open country, clear skies, depopulated outskirts of Ramadi. mid-day parades through downtown Ramadi's central avenue, a seeming cessation of infrastructure targetting around Raqqah. Third, there is the US refusal to work with or even acknowledge the Shi'ite militias. ISIL is surely versatile and dedicated and resilient - but with opposition like this, the Ruritanians might look pretty good. In the vernacular: what the hell's going on? To use another Americianism" you can't beat something with nothing

turcopolier

mbrenner

We have been over a number of your points before. Military forces can only be judged for effectiveness in the context of the opponents they face. This is universally true. As several of us have tried to explain. air power is nothing like as effective as it has been sold to be. The airplanes themselves are only part of the formula for using the over-rated air power. A large and effective targeting mechanism is needed to target and re-target aircraft. There is an open question as to how many hundreds of American servicemen the administration should commit to this task and life in the desert surrounded by Islamic fanatics and unreliable allies. the inhibition against killing civilians in mis-directed air attacks is strong. A small mistske leads to permanently dead innocents. I think you would be critical if that occurred. IS and Nusra are not unbeatable. US ground forces would defeat them handily. Do you want that? pl

Patrick Bahzad

PL,

It's true that IS light mobile units bear resemblance with Polisario columns. The only difference I see is that Sahrawis fought desert warfare at some point, which IS isn't really doing for fear of being engaged by coalition air force. Recoil less cannons also seem to have been more in fashion against Moroccans.
But the light mobile pick up truck columns are definitely a feature of tribal desert fighters, whether in Sahara or Jazira.
the Chadian army who fought gaddafi in the 1980s also used these tactics against heavily armoured Libyan columns to great effect. But they had french (And US) air and ground support. That's actually how they captured libyan gen. Haftar Who was then a loyal gaddafist.
The chadian Toubou Warriors were feared by the Libyans And they still are very effective fighters with a death dodger reputation. I remember one of their methods for clearing mine fields was to drive through with their land rovers or toyotas driving at 90 miles an hour.

Babak Makkinejad

All:

Iranian Foreign Minister on how to fight Violent Extremism

http://hir.harvard.edu/archives/11547

Babak Makkinejad

Pakistanis are doing the same thing, arming the Sunni Jundullah and sending them across the border into Iran to kill and maim.

Another manifestation of what is usually called called Islamic Brotherhood; the other one being when suicide bombers attack Shia Mosques.

Patrick Bahzad

I fail to see anything else in this piece than political propaganda by the minister of a State which has been one of the main proponents of terrorism in the ME since the early 1980s. But maybe it takes (former) terrorists or terrorism sponsors to know how to fight terrorism, why not ... Anyway, payback is a bitch, maybe Iran should have thought about that before they got their consulate officers slaughtered by Taleban !

turcopolier

PB

I was involved on behalf of the US on the Moroccan side. The Sahrawis never engaged unless they were closed up and "embracing" Moroccan forces. that was wise because Moroccan air would reach the scene of action along the berm before anyone else could. the Moroccan Air force often attacked Sahrawi forces forward of the berm if they could find them. BTW, the mandarins of the US cryptologic community refused to become involved to help the Moroccans. pl

Patrick Bahzad

What's the connection between jundullah and Sahrawis ?! There isn't any !
You should compile a list of all the shit the Iranians pulled for long long years, would clear up your mind and you might stop whinging about poor mistreated Iran. What a joke !

Medicine Man

Thank you.

steve

Do you really think they would fight if we deployed a large ground force? Why not just melt away, wait until we leave again, then come back? Maintain a constant stream of various suicide attacks and bombings so that we have constant casualties, while never letting us have a direct confrontation and "victory".

Tyler

PB,

Just looking at potential applications of these tactics in the US southwest.

The Taliban is telling ISIS to stay out of Afghanistan. My money is on the Afghanis.

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