Saturday, June 10, 2017

Operation Overlong Wrapping Up

Victory in Mosul--it is basically done but for killing the last surrounded die-hards--is not the end of the fight against ISIL in Iraq. But it is a good milestone. The victory took too long.

This is a nice salute to the Iraqi troops who spearheaded the attack to liberate Mosul:

They are Iraq’s best soldiers — the lead battalion of the three brigades of special forces that are heralded as the “Golden Division,” the almost-invincible killers of ISIS — and they know the final battle in Mosul rests on their shoulders. Passersby had honked their horns and cheered when, two days earlier, they rolled north in a convoy from Baghdad. The highway shook as flatbed trucks hauled their bullet-marked Humvees toward the front lines, each painted in the trademark black of the special forces, with the black-clad soldiers perched on top like gargoyles as Iraqi flags thrashed in the headwind. The battalion’s commander, Maj. Salam al-Obaidi, 38, guided the convoy from a white SUV emblazoned with a screaming eagle. A compact and fiery man with a buzz cut and trim mustache, his exploits against ISIS have made him one of the most recognizable soldiers in Iraq. When he rolled through checkpoints, Iraqi soldiers and Shiite militiamen came up to his window to shake his hand and take selfies.

These troops have fought well and bled for this victory (along with other troops less celebrated). My complaint isn't with them.

The battle for Mosul took longer than I thought it should and the start of the offensive took way longer than I anticipated.

Prior to the battle there were signs of shaky ISIL morale, but we may have failed to exploit that opportunity to make the war go faster.

Once finally in action at Mosul, the Iraqis went slowly to avoid killing innocents by accident. That might have caused more casualties in the long run by stretching the fight out, but the media can't understand that cause of death due to failure to win faster.

Basically, while the flow of the war took shape as I wanted it, the fight has taken too long.

The Iraq front should have been won by the end of 2015. The Syria front by the end of 2016. We should be well into the fight against Assad while suppressing ISIL terrorism in Iraq and liberated Syria.

Seriously, this war is taking way too long.

In the same amount of time since ISIL took Mosul in June 2014 to crushing ISIL in Mosul, with perhaps 30,000 ISIL fighters under command across Iraq and Syria at peak strength, America reacted to the Pearl Harbor assault, built a military, invaded France (with side campaigns in Africa and Italy before this), and drove to the borders of Germany (all while waging offensive war on Japan) against millions of German troops battle-hardened in their campaigns since 1939.

Terror in the West is one result of letting the caliphate live for so long so needlessly, giving jihadis hope of victory. Why wouldn't jihadis think Allah is on their side given they've endured so long in their caliphate against a global alliance pulled together by America?

So salute the Iraqi troops who have defeated ISIL in Mosul. They've earned that.

But it is shameful that it took so long to carry out this offensive against such a weak enemy.

UPDATE: Just in time considering the Syria Front could heat up:

Syria said its troops and allied forces reached the Iraqi border on Friday, for the first time since 2015, a day after a US jet shot down a pro-regime combat drone.

State news agency SANA, citing a military source, said "army units in cooperation with allies managed to arrive at the border... with Iraq" and "set up positions in an area northeast of At-Tanaf".

That's a long way from support and reinforcements for those Syrian forces.

UPDATE: This front could heat up in different ways:

Russia said on Saturday it had told the United States it was unacceptable for Washington to strike pro-government forces in Syria after the U.S. military carried out an air strike on pro-Assad militia last month.

Russia would be at a disadvantage in a clash with American forces in the region. Russia could get a good first shot in, but unless America backs down, the counter-attack would go badly for Russia.

Is Russia really willing to risk war with America over a non-objective? Seriously, Russia has no interest in Assad extending his control to eastern Syria which strengthens Iran in Syria. Russia has an interest in having Assad control western Syria where Russian bases are; and having Assad reliant on Russia for survival.

I suspect these are just formal words that Russia has to say publicly. But it is inherently dangerous. Russia could easily give Assad weapons to strike American forces, keeping Russia out of direct action, even if it would not be enough to defeat American forces.