Thursday, December 18, 2014

Boots on the Ground

Iraq's hold in Anbar is getting rather shaky. American forces seem to have fought ISIL to help hold an Iraqi base there.

US forces are reported to have fought ISIL in Iraq:

American troops in Iraq had their first actual battle with ISIS troops after the Islamist militants tried to overrun a base, an encounter that left the ISIS troops decimated and in retreat.

The attack took place near the Ein al-Asad base, which includes close to 100 U.S. military advisers. The U.S. troops, armed with “light and medium weapons,” and were able to inflict casualties against the ISIS fighters, forcing them to retreat, Shafaq News reported.

I'm not sure of the reliability of that news site or the news site that is the source of the report. I await information from our people about what happened.

This intervention of our troops is significant and shows what I've noted before--whatever we planned to do when we first intervened, Anbar province must be the first target unless we want the local Sunni Arabs hostile to ISIL to be terrorized into passivity.

Even if the report is false, just having such a story highlights the need Iraq has for help in the region:

No matter how many bombs Americans drop on ISIS forces, Iraqi troops are losing ground. If al-Anbar is lost, the entire Iraqi front dynamic will shift to favor ISIS again, and months of the U.S.-led air campaign will have been wasted.

If Iraq loses their hold on the fraction of the province they still hold, Baghdad becomes the front line and Iraq's already depleted ground forces will need to be committed even more strongly to fighting for Baghdad itself. That will leave fewer troops available to attack.

And a potential Jordanian commitment to fight ISIL in Iraq will have farther to go (I keep flogging that idea, I know, with nothing more than hints and hunches to support my notion) before linking up with Iraqi troops.

We may want to wait until all our plans are perfect before beginning an unstoppable offensive, but the funny thing about war is that enemies want to win, too.

And they usually don't cooperate by sitting there until we are ready to crush them. Not every enemy is as cooperative as Saddam was through two wars against us. We need to break that bad habit, no?