Monday, June 06, 2016

I'm Either Perceptive or Dense

I really want to believe that the American and allied training effort in Iraq is accumulating trained Iraqi brigades that are being held out of the fight in order to throw them into an offensive on Mosul soon.

Could this really be true after a year and a half of training?

A 17-month U.S. effort to retrain and reunify Iraq's regular army has failed to create a large number of effective Iraqi combat units or limit the power of sectarian militias, according to current and former U.S. military and civilian officials.

The article also raises questions about whether the small but good Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service is being stressed out spearheading so many attacks.

And I do worry about the pro-Iran militias.

But is our training effort for the regular Iraqi army really failing? We and our allies have done this kind of training in many places with much worse raw material than we are working with in Iraq. We're pretty good at it. Why isn't it working in Iraq?

Just a few weeks ago I read that we've trained over 30,000 Iraqi troops. If we don't see them in battle, where are they?

I assume we are holding them out of the line to avoid burning them out in penny packets to support other attacks in Anbar; and that these units will be used for a big offensive to really shatter ISIL in Iraq.


Remember, even if it is true that the bulk of the regular Iraqi army isn't very good--which is entirely believable and consistent with our plans--we only need a fraction of the total army to be good in order to break ISIL's back around Mosul. Thirty thousand--plus support from the Kurds to the north--should be more than enough to defeat ISIL in Mosul in cooperation with American-led fire support and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

I really want to believe talk like this is disinformation to convince ISIL that no offensive on Mosul is imminent.

Today is the anniversary of D-Day, aka Operation Overlord or the Longest Day.

And I have been mocking the time it is taking by calling our effort the Farthest Day and Operation Overlong.

Or am I just stubbornly refusing to believe accurate reports of ineptitude?

UPDATE: Is ISIL really a tough opponent at this stage? Either they are paranoid to the point of paralysis or riddled with informants:

In March, a senior commander with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was driving through northern Syria on orders to lead militants in the fighting there when a drone blasted his vehicle to oblivion.

The killing of Abu Hayjaa al-Tunsi, a Tunisian jihadi, sparked a panicked hunt within the group's ranks for spies who could have tipped off the U.S-led coalition about his closely guarded movements. By the time it was over, the group would kill 38 of its own members on suspicion of acting as informants.

This isn't the only case. Is the Iraqi army really incapable of taking them on?

UPDATE: And remember, too, that even with recently expanded Russian air strikes, Assad's army is largely incapable of offensive operations, relying on Hezbollah and a Shia foreign legion recruited by Iran to spearhead assaults, and relying on militias (organized with Iranian help) to hold territory.

Mind you, I also think Assad has a tough road to win while Iraq has a better chance because Assad is a minority-based government while the Iraqis have the majority aligned against ISIL. But Assad's ability to carry out offensives is what I want to point out.