Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Building Up Some Momentum

President Obama called for faster efforts against ISIL enabled by allied ground forces:

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday progress needs to speed up against Islamic State militants, calling on allies to increase their military contributions to coalition efforts to destroy the group in Iraq and Syria.

I'm assuming he wants allied ground power because that is what we lack. If we need more planes in the fight, we can handle that.

I'm actually fine with the president's stand against sending American ground maneuver units into the fight. Yes, we won the last time we did in 2003 when we invaded Iraq (to 2008 when the insurgencies were defeated). But then we lacked ground allies to help us fight our enemy.

Now we have local ground forces that we can support--the Iraqi army and security forces. That's why I called for a win-build-win strategy against ISIL that relies on local allies.

Further, I don't think the public would maintain support for US combat brigades on the ground. We can stick with air power, advisers, logistics, and ground fire support.

I'd like Ranger companies for air crew rescue and a good heavy reaction force in Kuwait ready to move north if necessary, but that's it for maneuver units.

One problem is that the Iraqi army was never trained as a conventional force after we left; nor were we there to combat corruption that led to the massive collapse in the north in mid-2014.

I wanted us to stay in Iraq after 2011 to train the Iraqi army for conventional wars of movement and wanted us to stay for rule-of-law issues.

But that didn't happen. So Iraq lost a lot of ground in the first half of 2014.

We've been training Iraqi units for conventional warfare for a year now. We should see better results, as the Ramadi battle seems to foretell (and the earlier successes at Tikrit and Baiji were earlier indicators) a turning of the tide in Iraq.

Now all we need is that Jordanian conventional commitment in western Anbar province that I keep expecting.

The tide is finally turning in Iraq, and our president is jumping to the front of the parade. Which is fine. As long as it is victory.

UPDATE: Our Secretary of Defense is in Iraq to see what we can do to speed things up.

UPDATE: And kudos to the Italians for stepping up in Iraq:

Italy is to send 450 troops to defend Iraq's strategic Mosul dam, near the city occupied by Islamic State group fighters, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced.

Italy participated in the first post-major combat operations mission on the ground during the Bush 43 administration. So they have my thanks for returning to Iraq to finish the mission.