Regardless of whether that briefing was an accurate reflection of our plans or was intended to obscure an Anbar offensive first, there could be another reason for the briefing and the questions even from some retired officers.
When some analysts I respect questioned the details, I had to reassess my lack of concern. On reflection, I'm still not worried.
I've blogged about pretty much everything in that briefing, whether it was the numbers, use of Kurds, or reserves and forward air controllers. So what gives?
Could it be that we don't care if ISIL knows we are coming (and they already did) as long as they start moving their assets to meet the assault?
That is, ISIL has adapted to our air campaign. While we still hurt them, it takes more effort because the enemy stopped being easy targets. One good way to get the enemy to be easy targets is to get them to move.
So if ISIL believes they need to redeploy to meet an offensive on Mosul, we may be able to hit more targets from the air. If this is accurate, we believe we gain more by killing jihadis than we lose by (apparently) confirming the bloody obvious.
I hope ISIL accepts the invitation.
Also, I still expect an operation into Anbar first. I just don't like the idea of an Iraqi thrust so far north with the units we embed with to advise while jihadis remain so close to Baghdad from their positions in eastern Anbar.
UPDATE: I'm reasonably sure that Anbar-based jihadis had a major role in this carnage:
A wave of bomb attacks around Baghdad killed 37 people and wounded dozens more on Tuesday, as at least seven explosions struck in or near the Iraqi capital, police and medical sources said.
Note that Iraqi troops are fighting right now in Anbar to clear al-Baghdadi, which is just 3 miles west of Ain al-Asad airbase where our Marines are training Iraqi troops.
Could this be an opening move in a fight for Anbar province that could precede a drive on Mosul?
UPDATE: Here's one ISIL reaction north of Baghdad:
Islamic State fighters have abducted 100 Sunni Muslim tribesmen near the city of Tikrit, local tribal leaders said on Wednesday, apparently to neutralize suspected opponents before a widely expected army offensive.
We'll see if this is good or bad for us. Does it anger Sunni Arab tribesmen to make them eager to work with Iraqi forces or cow them into submission?