Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Objective: Mosul

Is the reported smart bomb shortage just part of an effort to convince ISIL that an offensive to liberate Mosul is far off?

Not that I doubt that we are being forced to dip into war reserve stocks rather than replenish expended ordnance from production. I assume that is real.

Although I focused on our ability to support allies at war.

But is this news trying to leave the impression that we can't launch an offensive before we replenish those stocks?

I only ask because it seems like the offensive to liberate Mosul could be closer than we think it is--and closer than we say it is.

And I always remember the news story prior to Desert Storm that reported on widespread problems with the running gear of our Bradley Fighting Vehicles deployed to Saudi Arabia. That would have been a problem for a mechanized invasion force.

But of course, the Bradley was not sidelined during the invasion. I always suspected that was an attempt at disinformation.

So I suspect that the bomb shortage story is an attempt to make it seem like we simply can't risk attacking until production is ramped up.

In related news, ISIL is using human shields in their defense of Fallujah--which is a war crime for the morally confused out there--which might be the forward line of defense for Mosul:

"Human shields" make it more tactically and politically difficult for the Iraqi military to use U.S. and coalition air power (air attacks) and artillery to destroy or suppress Islamic State defenses.

The Islamic State may use Fallujah as an apocalyptic execution chamber. Cell phone camera videos recording the gruesome deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians might also topple the Iraqi government.

Which is just one way to defend Mosul before the Battle for Mosul begins.

UPDATE: Under apparent American pressure the Iraqis have suspended the offensive on Fallujah:

It’s unclear whether advice from the United States played any role in the decision. But US officials worried that a building-to-building battle to wrest the city from the Islamic State would imperil the city’s Sunni residents.

Such a disaster would almost certainly deepen tensions between Iraq’s majority Shiite population and minority Sunnis. Moreover, it could also result in the Iraqi Army becoming bogged down, diverting its attentions from the arguably more important goal of rousting the Islamic State from Mosul, a commercial hub and Iraq’s second-largest city.

I disagree.

I don't believe that any Iraqi forces involved in the offensive--save perhaps the Counter-Terrorism Force--are included in the order of battle for the push on Mosul.

I believe that securing Baghdad from the bombers coming out of the Fallujah staging ground is important to set the stage for the Mosul offensive.

And I find it astounding that we think that the Sunni Arab population would be better off living under ISIL rule even longer rather than risk problems liberating them because of the presence of Shia militias. Prolonging the occupation just leaves us with either more victims or more recruits from the residents who succumb to ISIL propaganda and pressure.

Yes, the militias (creatures of Iran) are a problem. But in theory I don't mind militia members dying while fighting ISIL members.

And if this is a defense of the wisdom of the pause, think again.

If the pause stretches into months, it would mirror the first battle of Fallujah, carried out by US Marines in 2004.

In that case, the Marines launched the battle to take back the city from Sunni insurgents – the precursors of the Islamic State – in April 2004, but halted the fighting out of concern for the civilian population. The US military worked out a deal with local Sunni Muslims that exchanged US restraint for the Sunnis holding the insurgents in check.

The pause lasted nearly seven months, until Marines finally entered the city center in November.

That is not an accurate summary. We halted the April offensive out of fear of casualties, true. But the Fallujah Brigade we set up did not hold the jihadis in check. No, Fallujah became a jihadi sanctuary filled with torture and bomb facilities.

And when we finally "entered the city center" later in the year, it was no stroll but a difficult battle that I think cost us more battle deaths than the major combat operations portion of the war that destroyed Saddam's military.

While care needs to be taken to keep the Shia militias from slaughtering Sunni civilians, Fallujah needs to be taken.

UPDATE: While I hope we are closer to marching on Mosul than we say, I admit that I want very much to believe that we aren't taking too much bloody time to defeat these evil asshats who don't rise to the level of being a threat worthy of being called a "war" that we define for force planning.