Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Next Year in Mosul

Could we just get a little sense of urgency about smashing ISIL?

No, really, take your time:

"We may be able to begin the campaign, do some isolation operations around Mosul," [Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart] said. "But securing or taking Mosul is an extensive operation and not something I see in the next year or so."

So we're into 2017 before actually recapturing Mosul from ISIL. More than 2-1/2 years after ISIL took Mosul and more than 3 years after ISIL swept into Anbar province and captured Fallujah.

And I did whine about our lack of support for Iraq before that horrible year.

Two-and-a-half years after Pearl Harbor, we smashed the Japanese surface fleet and, on the other side of the planet, landed at Normandy on D-Day.

So the Sitzkrieg will continue. Apparently we're still churning out PowerPoint presentations.

And if ISIL morale really is shaken, perhaps in another year they'll recover their faith in Allah and will to die (and kill) for the caliphate.

But to be fair, our military has higher objectives than the mere defeat of bloodthirsty jihadis.

Our president didn't actually responsibly end the Iraq War in 2011, and now he knows it. But whatever we are doing in Iraq, it is hard to call it waging war.

No, really, take your time. What could ISIL do with this precious time we've granted, anyway? Spread their tentacles throughout the Middle East and commit terrorism in Western cities?

UPDATE: Seriously, if ISIL morale is shaken by the loss of people, money, and territory in Iraq, the time to strike them is pretty damn soon:

As the battle for its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul looms, an increasingly desperate ISIS has replaced much of its depleted senior ranks with child soldiers and drugged foreign fighters ill-equipped to use what’s left of the terrorist army’s stolen armaments, according to both Kurdish and national intelligence sources.

If given time, even a very rattled army can recover its footing. It is important to strike while they are shaky to really hammer them, scatter them and get them running as fast as they can away from the battlefield.

We keep giving our enemies time. I don't understand why.

UPDATE: Okay, here's one reason from the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency--despite claims that Mosul is next--for delay:

I’m less optimistic in the near-term about Mosul. I think there’s lots of work to be done yet out in the western part. I don’t believe that Ramadi is completely secure, so they have to secure Ramadi. They have to secure the Hit-Haditha corridor in order to have some opportunity to fully encircle and bring all the forces against Mosul.

Remember, I've long felt Anbar should be secured before turning against Mosul. Anbar under ISIL control leaves Baghdad too vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

But after taking Ramadi back from ISIL, all the talk in the media was about Mosul being next. If that was the case, why the delay into 2017?

But if Mosul really isn't next, and more of Anbar is the target, then I'm okay with the delay. Happy, even.

And if Jordan strikes into Anbar from the west in a supporting offensive? Well, I'll do my happy dance (okay, I really don't have one of those, but you get my point).

UPDATE: And given the talk of delays for the big push on Mosul, we must be thinking of Iraq's Anbar province first:

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter predicted on Thursday that recent U.S.-led efforts to accelerate the fight against the Islamic State group would produce "tangible gains" in Iraq and Syria by March, even as coalition partners pledged to expand and deepen their military contributions.

Anbar isn't mentioned, but unless "tangible" means something way different than I think it does, "gains" can only mean Anbar province territorial gains.

Come on, Jordan. Give me a win on that longstanding hope/prediction.