Sunday, February 22, 2015

Good Enough for Government Work

I've heard some comments that the Iraqis aren't capable of taking Mosul with the hasty training they're being given to do the job. I disagree.

One, it is clear from the recent CENTCOM briefing that the five Iraqi army brigades we are training and advising are intended for the drive on Mosul and not for battling through the city itself.

These brigades will probably help to hold the ring outside the city to isolate it from outside ISIL support (or retreat) just as three Kurdish brigades will do the same on the north side.

The Iraqis will send in tribal forces, police units familiar with the city, and counter-terror forces that are pretty decent forces within the Iraqi ground forces.

Two, Iraqi forces did take the Iranian city of Khorramshahr in the Iran-Iraq War.

Mosul may be much bigger, but Iraqi forces with far less training captured the city of Khorramshahr in 1980 in a little over a month despite initial setbacks during the Iraqi invasion of Iran:

In the extreme south, Iraqi armor was repulsed with heavy losses after storming Khorramshahr unsupported. Iraq hastily trained commandos in urban warfare and renewed the attack. On October 25, 1980, the Iraqis succeeded in capturing the city. Ominously, the victory cost the Iraqis 5,000 casualties.

I dare say that even when going after a larger city, Iraqi casualties will be lower due to the fact that the city won't support the ISIL defenders and because of our fire support.

How long it will take to clean out the city, I don't know. It depends on whether the ISIL guys are in a mood to go to Paradise quite so soon rather than skedaddle back to Syria before the city is surrounded.

I don't know how long it will take to drive to the outskirts of Mosul, either. It may depend on how many mines and obstacles ISIL sows on the roads north and how many places ISIL holds in place to stop the offensive.

French forces moved fast in Mali two years ago to route jihadis there. But I doubt the Iraqis could manage that, from the time ISIL has had to plant obstacles and mines alone.

But I could be surprised, I suppose.

But Iraqi forces with allied fire support and advice are perfectly capable of battling through Mosul.

Heck, Mosul will probably look far better than Aleppo, Syria, which is "mostly rubble," when the fight for the city is over.

UPDATE: An Arab army can' beat a hopped-up jihadi enemy?

Please. Iraq beat revolutionary Iran on points, at least, in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, as that link above to my summary of the war shows.

The war was ugly, costly, and long, but in the end Iraq won because Iranian jihadi morale broke and they would not fight any more.