Friday, December 26, 2014

Preparing for a War of Movement

One thing is clear from the small-scale Iraqi efforts to claw back territory from ISIL--ISIL is planting all sorts of mines and IEDs to slow down an offensive. We seem to be preparing for that.

If we are to plan a rapid, air-supported ground advance with retrained Iraqi units and Kurdish units, we will have to cope with roads littered with explosives that will slow the offensive to a crawl.

So we are stockpiling equipment in Kuwait useful for an Iraq offensive:

The U.S. military has been stockpiling huge quantities of gear in Kuwait in preparation for shipping it across the border into Iraq for possible use in a coordinated offensive against the terrorist group Islamic State, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The gear is being housed near a busy commercial port, which is now the place where roughly 3,100 vehicles -- mostly ambush-protected vehicles known as MRAPs – are parked, in addition to electronic equipment and other supplies, the magazine reported, citing defense officials.

Of course, I don't think that Iraq has the ability to maintain this equipment. I imagine this is where civilian contractors come in. And we are increasing the use of contractors, too:

The U.S. government is preparing to boost the number of private contractors in Iraq as part of President Barack Obama's growing effort to beat back Islamic State militants threatening the Baghdad government, a senior U.S. official said.

How many contractors will deploy to Iraq - beyond the roughly 1,800 now working there for the U.S. State Department - will depend in part, the official said, on how widely dispersed U.S. troops advising Iraqi security forces are, and how far they are from U.S. diplomatic facilities.

Still, the preparations to increase the number of contractors - who can be responsible for everything from security to vehicle repair and food service - underscores Obama's growing commitment in Iraq. When U.S. troops and diplomats venture into war zones, contractors tend to follow, doing jobs once handled by the military itself.

Yes, the State Department "army" in Iraq. But that wasn't enough to hold the line when President Obama ordered our actual army out.

So are these MRAPs mainly for Iraqi troops in the spearheads of the offensives? I assume that's the plan.

Will some be reserved for foreign forward observers to call in air strikes?

That would make sense for our special forces, contractor, CIA, and even Coalition military forward observers who can work with our aircraft while the Iraqi troops advance into ISIL territory.

And in either case, we'll need civilian contractors to maintain the MRAPs since Iraq can't do the job and since we are unlikely to commit uniformed troops to do the job inside Iraq.

Hopefully, the use of MRAPs, along with helicopter-mobile infantry, will allow us not only to reduce casualties but to maintain a rapid advance into ISIL-held territory.

A mostly static front of frontal attacks into ISIL-held urban areas plays to ISIL advantages of being willing to die in place while taking as many attackers out as possible.

Better to have a war of movement that both reaches potential Sunni Arab allies inside ISIL territory and isolates jihadis from reinforcements and supplies as the frontline passes them by, which can weaken the resolve of the less committed jihadis to die in place and make it easier to let the die-hards die without inflicting as many casualties on our side.