Wednesday, November 19, 2014

See? This is the Problem

"Breaching" a line of ground forces with air attacks is pointless if no friendly ground force exploits that breach in the line to take ground.

That's nice:

France's defense ministry said on Wednesday that two Rafale jets had struck Islamic State targets alongside coalition planes near the northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk in an effort to breach the group's frontlines.

There is no mention of an allied ground forces attacking ISIL's line to take advantage of that breach.

So ISIL will fill the gap and the line will continue to hold.

The article also notes that France will send aircraft to Jordan. Let's hope Jordan provides a ground force that can take advantage of any attacks that those planes make in order to take ground in western Anbar province.

Using ground forces in concert with air power is the only way to apply effective military force to solve this problem.

UPDATE: That may have been a problem with the article focus and not the warfare:

In Iraq, the new offensive by Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, targeted areas in Diyala and Kirkuk provinces, said Jaber Yawer, a peshmerga spokesman. The IS extremists had seized the territory in their August offensive that saw them capture a third of Iraq.

But the article doesn't directly connect the Kurdish offensive in Iraq to the air strikes around Kirkuk. So I'm not sure if my criticism is justified or misplaced.

UPDATE: Ah, my worry is misplaced:

In the north Kurdish and Iraqi Army troops began a new offensive around Kirkuk. Using air support, Iraqi armor and artillery the Kurdish/Iraqi forces are pushing ISIL out of towns and villages in the area. The combination of air reconnaissance, air strikes and better equipped (the Kurds) and led (the Iraqis) fighters have been more than many ISIL groups can handle. There have been more ISIL surrenders and apparently a lot more ISIL men are deserting. This is what captured ISIL men are reporting, as well as foreign volunteers who return home and are identified by local police and questioned.

Do read the rest, which discusses the ISIL fight and which includes the detail that the Iraqi army has eroded to just a little over 100,000 troops (from pre-June levels of 205,000) and that 100,000 Shia militia have been accepted into service. That alone explains much of the passivity since much of the force has to hold the line before it can counter-attack.

There are police, too, which suffered similar problems, in the security role. And the Kurds in the north, of course. But the Iraqi manpower total shows why we have a struggle to find a core mobile ground force to exploit allied air power.