Friday, October 02, 2015

I'm Not Sure What We're Doing in Iraq, But It Isn't Waging War

Kunduz, Afghanistan, has been recaptured by Afghan forces backed by coalition support. There are pockets of resistance, but the Taliban basically held the city for three days. Now let's look at Ramadi, Iraq, where we are in a race with ISIL to see if they can plant more IEDs than we can make PowerPoint presentations.

What a shock:

The fight to retake Ramadi from Islamic State jihadists has been on an "operational pause" and Iraqi troops weren't trained to deal with the group's battlefield techniques, a US official said Thursday. ...

He said IS had built "defensive bands" around the city -- essentially fields littered with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

"They are using these IEDs almost as landmines to create these minefields, which they can then cover with (gun)fire," Warren said.

The official by way of explanation said that in the middle of the last decade, we trained Iraqis for counter-insurgency. Which is a non-sequitur.

We've been training Iraqis for a war of movement since last year and we didn't anticipate that an enemy given time will dig in and fortify their positions? Seriously?

This is yet another example of what happens when you give an enemy that most precious commodity of all, time--they use it.

Afghan forces did not face belts of IEDs when they recaptured Kunduz. Why? Because we didn't give the Taliban time the way we've invited ISIL to wire up Ramadi!

Reading the stories of German commanders on the eastern front in World War II, one can see that the Germans realized that a successful counter-attack had to take place quickly with whatever they had on hand because if the Germans paused to gather a bigger force, the Russians would dig in and be very difficult to pry out of their new bunkers at an acceptable cost.

We gave the enemy time in Ramadi. The enemy used that time. And the ISIL occupation of Ramadi drags on, with the once-prime objective of liberating Mosul pushed back even more.

And now the already painfully slow offensive is on "pause." How can we tell the difference between this and what we were doing is beyond me. But I'm nuance-deficient, as I've repeatedly admitted.

It's a wonder the Kurds participate at all:

Kurdish forces said they drove Islamic State militants out of villages near the oil city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on Wednesday, in an offensive backed by airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition. ...

The Kurds already control most of the territory they claim as their own, and have little incentive to push further into predominantly Arab towns and villages, except where they pose a direct threat to their region.

Don't expect the Kurds to save us given what we are doing further south.

Is it any wonder that Iraqis are flirting with the Russians?

Iraq's government would welcome Russian air strikes against Islamic State and was receiving information from both Syria and Russia on the militant group, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Thursday.

The United States has led air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq for more than a year, but Baghdad has repeatedly bemoaned the lack of engagement and air support for Iraqi forces trying to regain territory against the group.

The Russians might give Ramadi the Grozny treatment, but it wouldn't be held by ISIL when they are done with the city.

Heck, are we hoping that Russia will intervene in Iraq?

And is it any wonder that conspiracy theories in the Arab street say that we created ISIL?

It is far easier to believe that we secretly support ISIL than to contemplate that we are suddenly so bad at war. They saw us smash Saddam's military. They saw us smash al Qaeda and Baathist resistance. They saw us smash Iran's Sadrist hand puppet death squads.

But now we can't seem to lay a glove on ISIL?

But no worries, I'm sure ISIL won't do something else that takes priority over liberating Ramadi while we perfect the perfect plan to smash ISIL in Ramadi.

Just one more PowerPoint presentation ought to do it, eh?