Friday, November 14, 2014

No Plan Survives Contact With the Enemies

Realizing we have many enemies in the "ISIL" campaign is a start.

I've noted that our air campaign against ISIL is pretty small; and that my main concerns within a war strategy that I broadly think is correct are that we haven't made the decision that we really have to overthrow Assad at the end of this war, and that I don't know if we have the determination to see this multi-year strategy through to the end. At least part of my concerns are being addressed.

First, the air campaign will get bigger:

Defending the U.S. strategy during a House of Representatives hearing, Hagel said, "As Iraqi forces build strength, the tempo and intensity of our coalition's air campaign will accelerate in tandem."

And Assad is finally on the agenda:

President Barack Obama wants his advisers to review the administration's Syria policy after determining it may not be possible to defeat Islamic State militants without removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, CNN reported on Wednesday.

And you need to cope with the problem I've noted repeatedly that Syrian rebels will migrate to the jihadis if the jihadis are seen as the only force capable of taking on Assad:

Western-backed “moderate” rebels fighting jihadists in Syria are refusing to do battle, giving up and even defecting for lack of weapons and other promised support, leaders have told The Telegraph. ...

The failure of the United States to supply substantial weapons despite offering the opposition moral backing in its war against President Bashar al-Assad has been a major rebel complaint since the start.

Arm and back the non-jihadis and they can resist the jihadi attacks and resist the appeal of the jihadis to foot soldiers as the only effective force capable of taking on Assad's forces.

Of course, I'll also say that our plan that sees decisive actions happening in 2015 relies on ISIL cooperating with our timetable.

No plan survives contact with the enemy, the saying goes. Especially when it takes you a while to realize you have multiple enemies and not just one.

UPDATE: Oh, and I meant to mention that Iran is our enemy, too, despite wishful thinking in the administration that we can leverage a common interest in defeating ISIL into a new strategic relationship.

UPDATE: Which means the pro-Iran militias in Iraq have to be defeated again:

... His militia is one of three small Iraqi Shi’ite armies, all backed by Iran, which together have become the most powerful military force in Iraq since the collapse of the national army in June.

Alongside Asaib Ahl al-Haq, there are the Badr Brigades, formed in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War, and the younger and more secretive Kataib Hezbollah. The three militias have been instrumental in battling Islamic State (IS), the extremist movement from Islam’s rival Sunni sect.

The militias, and the men who run them, are key to Iran’s power and influence inside neighboring Iraq.

I will strongly dissent from the idea that the militias are the most powerful military force in Iraq. That's nonsense. But they are a threat to Iraq once ISIL is defeated.

Just as we defeated many threats during the Iraq War, we have many to re-defeat today.