Monday, September 28, 2015

Waiting for Putin to Intervene?

So what is with our Iraq strategy for liberating Ramadi?

A Ramadi counteroffensive, announced in July, was supposed to mark a turning point for Iraqi troops, who have proved to be no match for the determined IS fighters. Instead it has sputtered, slowed by sectarian squabbles, debilitating summer heat and the extremists' use of improvised bombs to create what amounts to a minefield around Ramadi.

Over the past two months, the Iraqi government has added about 3,000 U.S.-trained Iraqi troops to the Ramadi operation, representing one-third of the total, U.S. officials say. U.S. officers in Iraq are working directly with Iraqi commanders to plan and executive the counteroffensive, but the Iraqis appear not to be in a hurry.

It is inexcusable that our war effort in Iraq is stalled.

Yes, I've had my doubts, too:

So now we truly have a siege.

So much for the war of movement I kept hoping for.

It took us 2-1/2 years to build from virtually scratch an army and air force strong enough to invade the heart of Nazi-held Germany on D-Day, and then drive into Germany to less than a year later.

Of course, we didn't need to waste two years of that preparation time making PowerPoint presentations about Operation Overlord.

Bad things happen when you give an enemy time.

Is it our fault for not working with what we have and making it better with our capabilities?

Or is it the fault of the Iraqis, as that article suggests?

"The Iraqi army remains weak despite American military aid," Lina Khatib, a Middle East expert and research associate at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, said by email. "It is simply not realistic to expect an army that almost crumbled just over a year ago in the face of the spread of IS to bounce back in such a short period of time."

The Iraqi army could recover in such a short period of time. It did exactly that after the crushing defeat at Khorramshar inside Iran in mid-1982:

Iran's assault on the city began on May 22, 1982, and cracked the defense in only thirty-six hours of fighting. Twelve thousand Iraqis were not quite nimble enough in escape and headed for imprisonment. Yet as bad as this debacle was, at least most escaped to fight again because of the retreat. A month later, Iraq announced that all troops would be withdrawn from Iran within ten days. Iraq carried out this promise and Iraqi troops settled into border fortifications that had been under construction since the fall of 1981. They would be tested again. ...

As Iran massed troops northeast of Basra, the Iraqis were reeling after losing a third of their army during the retreat from Khuzestan. In addition, only a third of Iraq's air force was in flying condition. The impact of Iran's victory was also felt amongst Iraq's civilian population. Iraqi Shiites, who Hussein feared were vulnerable to Iranian propaganda, rioted in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

On July 13, 1982, the beginning of Operation Ramadan made it clear that Tehran had decided to go for total victory. This attempt to capture Basra failed as the Iraqis rediscovered the will to fight. On the 16th, a follow up Iranian attack further north scored an initial gain by driving Iraq's troops back. The Iraqis maintained their composure and hit both flanks of the Iranian penetration., mauling the Iranians and sending them back to their start lines. A third attack along the Khorramshahr-to-Baghdad road on the 23rd also stalled. Two more attacks before the end of the month by Iran left their troops no closer to capturing Basra.

Iraq's army recovered from their massive defeat in about a year despite facing large numbers of fanatical enemy troops with a good supply of weapons and heavy equipment.

Iraq's military will never be known as the Prussians of the Fertile Crescent. So it is no use whining about their inadequacies.

But the Iraqis are good enough in relation to their outnumbered and ill-equipped (if fanatical) enemies if we would just work with what Iraq has using what we can bring to the table to make them more effective.

But no, really, take our time. What could go wrong?

It's not like Russia would send an expeditionary force to take advantage of our unwillingness to effectively help, right?