Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Compare and Contrast

As I hoped, our approach to helping Iraqis in combat has been shown to be better than Iran's approach. Our approach could also lead to much more rapid success than anyone appears to think.

I hoped our approach to helping Iraqis retake land from ISIL would show that fewer Iraqis die than with Iran's "scream and leap" method.

And yes, our way worked better as Strategypage explains:

Prime minister Abadi made it very clear that he had requested American air power to be used at Tikrit to support Iraqi Army units attacking the city. ...

In Tikrit Iraqi forces reached the center of the city. Iraqi troops suffered 17 dead and 100 wounded in the last three days fighting their way in from the outskirts. The low casualties were largely due to the air support (which included a few sorties from Iraqi aircraft firing Hellfire missiles). Iraqi troops counted far more dead ISIL men, most of them killed by the smart bombs and guided missiles. ISIL had prepared elaborate defenses using remote controlled bombs and mines along with captured ATGM (anti-tank guided missiles) to discourage the use of armored vehicles to lead the advance. These defenses could be blown apart by one or more smart bombs.

As I've written, I hope we publicize this contrast by praising all the Iraqi martyrs who died in large numbers under the direction of Iran's commanders who sent them to glorious death without those tools of the modern world that would have tainted their glorious sacrifice.

And our way reassured Sunni Arabs and harmed Iran and their local militia allies (including Iranians sent in to--unconvincingly--pose as local recruits):

Thus Abadi won a double victory (over Iran and ISIL) at Tikrit. Neither of the losers took it well. Abadi also won support from Iraqi Sunnis for standing up to Iran and for ordering the army to halt the looting (by criminal gangs and some Shia militias) and revenge murders that followed the army occupation of the city.

I also think that there is reason to believe that if hit hard enough with good enough troops, ISIL's defenses could collapse.

ISIL is having motivation problems:

American intelligence analysts, based on surveillance photos, electronic intercepts (of Internet, radio and cell phone discussions), captured documents and prisoner (and deserter) interrogations, believe that ISIL is now definitely on the defensive in Iraq, despite recent major attacks in Anbar. Although foreign volunteers continue to get to ISIL held areas in Syria and Iraq most of them have few useful skills (combat and otherwise). Meanwhile ISIL is suffering heavy losses (from combat and desertion) among its experienced fighters and specialists. There are growing discipline and morale problems that the senior leadership have few good solutions for. Executing commanders who do not win and lecturing the others is a short term solution that makes things worse in the long term.

And when that kind of morale problem happens, good troops with good fire support can have rapid and decisive effect even against the "God is with us" crowd, as the French achieved in Mali in 2013 and as we achieved in Afghanistan in 2001 when we routed the Taliban.

Do read all of Strategypage's posts in that link.

I suspect that when we finally get the offensives that we are working on into gear, we could have some very rapid advances into western and northern Iraq even if chasing down the remainder of ISIL's scum jihadis drags on for a couple more years.

UPDATE: This story, about American troops returning to Iraq to train Iraqi troops, is depressing to read:

Most of the American soldiers were intimately involved in training Iraqi forces before, too. “When I left in 2009,” Major Modlin said, “they had it, they really did. I don’t know what happened after that.”

What happened is that we left. We were not there to keep the training going and identify corrupt officers and keep up the pressure against jihadis.

And no, I don't want to hear from Obama loyalists that Iraqis didn't want us to stay after 2011. Some wanted us to go. Iran wanted us to go. But many Iraqis wanted us to stay.

And President Obama wanted us to go. So that's what happened.

Remember, President Obama ran his presidential campaign demanding we get out of Iraq. Once he ordered us out of Iraq the president boasted that he got us out of Iraq.

But we're supposed to believe that between the demanding and boasting he really, really tried really hard to achieve the opposite of his earlier demands and later boasts?

You may be hopped up on so much hope and change that this avoidance of presidential responsibility is credible to you, but it is nonsense.

UPDATE: Yep: "If only Obama had paid attention to Iraq ... But his only interest in Iraq was in ending the war."

We're back in Iraq. So President Obama didn't even succeed in ending our part in the war that continued to rage after we left in 2011.

He just let the enemy, who appear to be completely immune to the soothing balms of hope and change, recover from their earlier battlefield defeats.

UPDATE: To be fair to the Obama administration, maybe he wouldn't have been the best candidate to teach the Iraqis about rule of law.

UPDATE: And remember, we are in competition with Iran over Iraq's future. Which means we need to engage Iraq to defeat Iran rather than isolate Iraq because Iran is seeking to dominate Iraq.

That would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, no?

And rather stupid considering we have 4,500 troops in Iraq to help the Iraqis fight ISIL.