Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Baghdad or Bust

IS, or ISIS to irritate the Oxford boys, are throwing everything into getting into Baghdad. Once there, diluted and hidden amongst the urban civilian population, Western air strikes will be impotent. The only way to shift them will be long, bloody and arduous urban street fighting of the sort the Septics experienced in Fallujah in 2004. Everything is to play for. Once in Baghdad, the spineless Shia politicos and generals will flee to their Swiss chalets with their stolen loot. 

Everyone has a bit of the truth about Iraq. Yes, it's the battleground for a wider and longer lived Islamic civil war. Yes, it's a hotchpotch of conflicting tribal allegiances. Yes, it's about the oil. Even the much derided George Galloway spoke truth to fools in the Commons when he claimed that ISIS was if not supported at least not opposed by many Sunni extended families and settlements in the Iraq - Syria crescent. 

Well, our army's utter failure in Basra at urban warfare - one of the army's ignominious defeats which unusually we don't celebrate - means that we're unlikely to be much use in helping shift ISIS from Baghdad if they get established there. Nothing wrong with our troops, you understand, but incompetent command, as is usual with the UK.


Nick Drew said...

I read the other day that IS[IS/IL] military ops are led by former Iraqi Army generals, which certainly changes my perspective on the matter

whatever we think of Saddam, he had some excellent generals who conducted his ill-conceived assault on Iran (and its protracted aftermath, during which they were heavily outnumbered by fairly resolute and motivated hordes) with considerable strategic and tactical verve (a post for another day)

Wildgoose said...

Urban warfare is particularly nasty and brutal. Committing our troops into an environment where even the slightest mistake can have severe consequences to civilians would be disastrous.

The donkeys in charge would just take the side of the terrorists and prosecute most of the Army for "murdering" the people trying to kill them, as in the case of Sgt Al Blackman.

Petition for his release, here.

Robert said...


Link not working

Wildgoose said...

The link worked for me, but here is a direct link:


Sebastian Weetabix said...

The. Blackman case has always puzzled me. Since when were Franc-Tireurs not wearing a recognisable uniform entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention?

Anonymous said...

Fer Christ sake GIVE them their utopia of an Islamic State. Then give US the powers to deport activists and anyone who won't integrate into OUR society and OUR ways of life.

Sick of having to sort out other peoples problems when we have enough of our own at home.

Wildgoose said...

@Sebastian Weetabix

Agreed. No recognisable uniform, questionable chain of command, don't abide by the norms of "civilised" combat, etc.

However, they explicitly said that the Geneva Convention did not apply in this case.

So, he was convicted for having killed someone who was trying to kill him and his fellows and who would only have taken prisoners for the purpose of torturing them to death later.

It seems the Arithmetic on the Frontier is even more stacked against the squaddie now than it was in Kipling's time.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

From the strategic POV the arithmetic is geometrically worse than in Kipling's time. They use Honda 50cc bikes, Toyota Hi-Lux, AK47s, RPGs, fertiliser and Semtex. We use Tornados at £30,000/hr just to fly about and then fire missiles at £1million/bang. And when the refugees from all this excitement turn up on our doorstep, instead of giving them the bum's rush we give 'em housing, schooling, food and medicine at our expense. They then commence to breed like Mosquitoes without relinquishing their -ahem- vibrant robust culture, like some sort of visigoth 5th column. I suspect our leaders do not think at all, never mind think strategically, consumed as they are with perpetuating the fantasy that the visigoths among us are not visigoths at all, and how very dare you for even thinking it, you grotty little UKIP racists.

I note with amusement that Harridan Harperson wanted to be personally informed whenever a sortie departed Akrotiri. If I were still in the RAF I would have agreed with alacrity and then staggered the take-offs every 40 minutes from 00:00 to 06:00. I detect Cameron and Hammond lacked the imagination to agree with the dozy bitch.

Cascadian said...

Forget the isil/isis nonsense this is al-quaeda (the strong horse)and as bin laden predicted young men are attracted to it.

Obama and camoron are the weak horse, their sociopathic need to believe they defeated al-quaeda so that they could ignominiously leave Iraq will encumber them.

Their inability to recognize that islam is a religion based on insurgency, lying and abasement of christians will forever ensure they are fighting a shadow with their fatuous rules-of-engagement designed to ensure defeat.

Al-quaeda will be successful precisely because these fools are conducting a non-defence of the west's interests. The biggest threat is not al-quaeda but camoron in Londinistan and obama in Washington.

Until there is a change in leadership then defeat is assured.

G. Tingey said...

In some ways, it's even worse ...
As for tactics, someone correct me, but ISIL seems to be using the Somali tactic of technicals with support crews. As Kilcullen described it in Out of the Mountains, it's a really simple and robust system: set up a skirmish line with everyone in eye contact (either on foot or in weaponized SUVs). Advance in a line, and when there's fighting, everyone within range heads towards the fight and engages until the threat is eliminated or they're forced to retreat. Once the threat is eliminated, reform the skirmish line and head forward. Owners of the technicals drive their vehicles to make sure they're not stolen, but otherwise, there's no command structure. It's a simple system, easy to teach, and a pain in the ass for a rigid military hierarchy to deal with, because every fighter in the line within communications range automatically converges on any opposition they find without command, and there's no communications hierarchy to disable or decapitate to stop the attack. OTOH, the US has been dealing with these kinds of attacks for almost 25 years now, which may be one reason why drone wars have become so popular. The point here is that it's a low tech, relatively low cost, relatively robust way to fight, and a conventional army really needs to be ready for it to take it on and win.

It SHOULD be obvious how to defeat this, but you need really reliable ground-troops to do it, who will stand. You put up resistance @ prepared points, get them to concentrate & then blow them away with superior firepower.
But you need peoples like the HAC or the Terratorial Rifle Brigade battalions at 1st Alamein.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I think you're perfectly correct about how to defeat them in the first instance, but of course then they just melt into the population again and you're back to occupation and car bombs all over again.

It is incredible how easily our politicians have been swayed from opposing Assad and arming his enemies (always foolish in my view, for reasons now obvious) to now switching sides, but even worse doing so in a way guaranteed to result in a defeat; no boots on the ground, not chasing them into their safe havens in Syria, hamstringing our forces through overcautious rules of engagement. Ever since 2001 the Islamists have held the initiative and we are yet again fighting on their terms.

At a strategic level there are two respectable (imho) courses of action:
1. Do nothing. It's a Sunni/Shia/Alawite/Druze/Ismaili/Arab/Persian/Kurd civil war, so just let them get on with it and sort themselves out. In a hundred years or so there might be a winner, you never know.
2. Pick a side and fight to win. And don't worry about civiian casualties or the BBC getting upset, remembering that the Geneva convention and the rules of 'civilised' warfare do not apply to insurgents who cut off heads. They want to be martyrs? Then make it so.

Everything else is just idle bullshit for PR purposes, to enable stunted pygmies in politics to pose as statesman in front of the simple minded.

Raedwald said...

SW - Agree wholly with your options.

Malcolm Stevas said...

Another plaudit for Mr Weetabix's options. Both the Arab world and that of Islam worldwide have an infinite capacity for schism and fratricidal bloodletting, at least as bad as Medieval Europe. I don't think anyone in Europe or America has managed to pick a respectable long-term winner in the Middle East, ever, and the third-raters currently clinging on to power in this country by their closely-bitten fingernails are less likely than most to make a good call. We should pull out the stops to create energy self-sufficiency anyway, but especially so that we no longer feel any dependence on oil from the Gulf or N.Africa – then we can leave them to it. Unless our interests are threatened directly and unambiguously by them, I feel almost wholly indifferent to the fortunes of the Arab world. I suspect a large proportion of other English folk feel similarly.

Bloke in Italy said...

And if we are goingto fight from the air, let's do so with the right tools. Not laser guided munitions at a million a pop, but A10 warthogs and AC130 gunships ... Oh sorry we haven't got any because UK procuremnt is driven by Brussels not by competent uk doctrines and requirements.

And yes, Sw spot on.

TrT said...

We don't even have to get *our* hands dirty.
Pick our side(s) (yazidi, druze, Kurd, Christian, jew, ect) and flood them with trucks, hmgs, recoiless rifles, mortars and let them get on with it.
£30mn would equip a 'Technical brigade'

Maybe with a bit of conventional muscle kept on stand by to shoe any regular muscle in the region that tries to back up ISIS.