Friday, February 27, 2015

The Coming Battle Of Mosul


General Dempsey, chaircat of the Joint Chiefs, recently pointed out, “We may need to ask to have our advisers accompany the troops that are moving on Mosul.”

Oh Snap! 


However, there is no “may” about it. While the offensive will mainly be launched by the Iraqi Army, it cannot succeed without American forward air controllers and advisers, plus thousands of backup U.S. troops. CentCom did not give its briefing without knowing whether the plan included advisers. In that sense, the briefing was a trial balloon to prepare the public for a change of mind by the president.

The two battles for Fallujah show what would be likely to happen in Mosul.

Some 18,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed by 540 air strikes and 16,000 artillery and tank shells. Knee-deep water flooded the shattered city. Seventy Americans were killed and 600 wounded.

The coming offensive will be war on a scale without precedent in the past decade. To get to Mosul, 200 miles north of Baghdad, the Iraqi Army has to fight its way through five cities. Once that is done, logistics supply requires holding open a single highway that will be subject to repeated IED explosions and suicide-bomber attacks. Between 30,000 and 50,000 tons of munitions, water, fuel, and equipment must be delivered to the frontlines. Delays and shortages are inevitable.

This fight will not be swift. ISIS knows it will crumble if it cannot hold onto territory. If ISIS were to retreat, what happened in Anbar Province in late 2006 would be repeated: namely, the local populace would point out every jihadist and every hiding place.

A despised army is most vulnerable as it tries to retreat. Every identifiable enemy vehicle would be a target for air strikes by our forces. When ISIS first attacked Mosul, the Iraqi Army ran away. So ISIS will fight with confidence when the Iraqi Army comes back. The jihadists will hold tens of thousands of civilians as human shields, while hundreds of thousands will flee, guaranteeing confusion. Thousands of fanatical Islamists will be hiding among 150,000 buildings, determined to fight to the death.

The part of Mosul on the east side of the Tigris is Kurdish. That likely can be seized. On the west bank of the Tigris, the city is primarily Sunni, and the fighting will be tough. In Fallujah, about 150 squads searched 18,000 buildings, engaging in more close-in shootouts than all the police SWAT teams in history.

Iraqi soldiers, lacking the determination of United States Marines, will not battle house to house. Instead, they will stand off and smash the city with artillery and American air power. Mosul is five times larger than Fallujah. More than 2,000 air strikes and 100,000 artillery shells are likely to be delivered, with 50,000 buildings wrecked. The press will show pictures of rubble and misery day after day, week after week.


There will be nothing surgical about this offensive. A State Department spokesperson recently repeated a mindless trope: “We cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war.” Well, get ready for a lot of killing.

44 must prepare the public for an operation that will be fierce, long, and messy. Given the enormous costs, the White House must not commit to this operation unless it is convinced that taking Mosul would significantly advance American interests.

Now comes the strategic kicker: Who is the winner if Mosul is seized? Iran.

Currently, Iran has 7,000 troops and advisers working with the Shiite militias fighting alongside the Iraqi Army. Our bombing and our advisers would be supporting Iranian soldiers and Shiite militias advancing amidst Iraqi Army units. This operation would make America the de facto wartime partner of Iran. If the Shiite Iraqi Army did capture the destroyed Sunni city, Iran would stand out as a winner, having extended its regional power into a Sunni heartland.   
How would the White House explain that outcome to Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt — already estranged by the administration’s actions over the past six years?

By briefing about a military offensive for public-relations effect, the White House and CentCom have posed strategic questions without providing the answers. The war would not stop with Mosul. Seizing that city would still leave ISIS in control of northwestern Iraq, half of Syria, and large swaths of North Africa.

Before we again enter this war on the ground, we need to clearly define the final objectives in Syria, Iraq, and across the Maghreb.

Pic - "No True Glory"


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Payambar-e Azam IX



Great Prophet Bay Bee!

Gay Free Persia's Preacher Command and Revo Guard fan boys commence their annual Great Prophet war game

The first day of these exercises will see mining operations by IRGC speedboats with various capabilities including marine radars and advanced communication systems, cruise missiles with a range of 25 km, medium-range anti-ship missiles, medium- and large-caliber torpedoes and naval mines.

For the first time in the world, helicopters equipped with missiles will be used in today’s military drills and also two coast-to-sea ballistic missiles will be fired which will be able to cover up to 270 kilometers of distance.

In another part of today’s operation, radar-evading missiles called Nasr (Arabic for Victory) will also be launched from the vessels which can fly at the altitude of 2-5 meters above the sea level.
The big deal about this Pyambar - e Azam is the fake believe American air craft carrier Iran has built to practice attacking...

State TV showed footage of missiles fired from the coast and the fast boats striking the mock U.S. aircraft carrier. The drills, which also included shooting down a drone and planting undersea mines, were the first to involve a replica of a U.S. carrier.

"American aircraft carriers are very big ammunition depots housing a lot of missiles, rockets, torpedoes and everything else," the Guard's navy chief, Adm. Ali Fadavi, said on state TV, adding that a direct hit by a missile could set off a large secondary explosion. Last month Fadavi said his force is capable of sinking American aircraft carriers in the event of war.
Pic - "Sepāh-e Pāsdārān-e Enqelāb-e Eslāmi"

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Arab Miltary Myth

 
 
Many in the West will take heart from the news that Egypt’s dictator, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is calling for a joint Arab military force to take on Islamist extremism in the region. Coming shortly after his air force carried out bombing runs in Libya against groups that have pledged fealty to ISIL, it is tempting to take Sisi’s proclamation as a call to arms against the monstrous terrorist organization that calls itself the Islamic State. It raises the prospect of Arab boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq, taking on‚ with the help of Western planes and drones—ISIL.
Ready for the reality check?
It is one thing for the Egyptian air force to bomb ISIL—aka ISIS—from the air. But when it comes to ground troops, the ability of Arab militaries to fight an organized, motivated enemy is highly suspect. (That may explain why, only last week, Sisi was calling for a United Nations force to bring order to Libya.)
 
It has been decades since the Egyptian military has fought a full-fledged war, and the last time it was deployed in another Arab country—in Yemen in the 1960s—it was humiliated. Since then, Egypt’s rulers have used their army mainly to bully and beat up unarmed civilians protesting against oppression, and to fight homegrown terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula. They’ve been pretty good at the former, but not especially effective at the latter. Despite official claims of successes in the Sinai, terrorists attacks have been on the rise, and it is a bad sign that the Sisi regime feels it necessary to exercise strict censorship on reporting from the peninsula.
If Egypt’s recent track record is dismal, the history of Arab military cooperation isn’t especially reassuring, either. Some Western analysts hope that the GCC Peninsula Shield, a 40,000-strong force made up of countries in the Persian Gulf, can be brought to bear against ISIL. But like the Egyptian military, this mini-military was built mainly to protect Gulf regimes from internal political unrest. The Peninsula Force was most recently deployed in Bahrain in 2011, to stamp down civilian rallies against the royal family.
It’s worth remembering, too, that one of the most powerful Arab militaries—Syria’s—has been fighting against ISIL for nigh on four years. The forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad enjoy home-field advantage, and are not restrained by any concern for civilian casualties or such niceties as the Geneva conventions. Assad’s planes and tanks have flattened entire towns and cities, and still have failed to defeat ISIL, much less recover territory under the terrorists’ control. 
The other Arab military in the war against ISIL, Iraq’s, seems to be leaving the hardest fighting to Kurdish militias and Iran-backed Shi’ite gangs. Last week, as the Pentagon talked up an Iraqi-led, US-guided offensive against Mosul, many Iraqi leaders were skeptical that their troops would be ready.
None of this is to suggest that the fight against ISIL will not require Arab military involvement—it will. But just as in the current air campaign against the terrorists in Syria and Iraq, regional forces can at best be expected to put in a token effort.

When the time comes for a ground offensive against ISIL, expect the heavy lifting to be done by battle-hardened Western troops, rather than the tin soldiers who make up most Arab militaries.
 

Swarm Baby Swarm

 

First China blinds her enemy, than she drops the hammer. A large body of recent Western literature assumes China would leverage the large amounts of cruise and ballistic weapons it has developed and deployed over the last several decades in any conflict with America and its allies. This includes mostly accurate short, medium, and long-range weapons and the much ballyhooed anti-ship ballistic missile or “carrier-killer.”

After Beijing is assured Washington and its allies are in C2 and C4ISR hell, the Chinese version of “shock and awe” would be on full display. Beijing would launch a massive barrage of cruise and ballistic missiles from the land, air, and sea. The likely targets: U.S. and possibly allied air bases with many of their advanced aircraft on the tarmac like sitting ducks, physical command and control centers, and U.S. naval vessels around the Pacific. China would attempt to do as much damage in one massive blow, and hope that it was strong enough to would induce either a meager U.S. and allied response or possibly none at all.

Consider the below when we apply the Chinese missile threat to just naval assets and get a little creative: if Beijing was really slick it could fire off older missiles that were not as accurate towards allied naval vessels— almost like decoys— just to shrink the number of available interceptors:

“Think about it — could we someday see a scenario where American forces at sea with a fixed amount of defensive countermeasures facing an enemy with large numbers of cruise and ballistic weapons that have the potential to simply overwhelm them? Could a potential adversary fire off older weapons that are not as accurate, causing a defensive response that exhausts all available missile interceptors so more advanced weapons with better accuracy can deliver the crushing blow?"

Pic - "Shashoujian!"

Monday, February 23, 2015

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council - it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!
And now - without further adieu or a don't

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rising ISIS


Shaken and stirred - nicht wahr?

Egypt carried out airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya over the weekend in response to a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians. The strikes are Egypt’s most high-profile attack against the group yet, and also a sign that the global conflict with ISIS is spreading beyond the central battlefield in Iraq and Syria. In Libya the group has been gaining clout for some time and now controls the city of Derna, near the Egyptian border.

Egypt: Before the Libya strikes, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s government had been battling ISIS-linked militants in the Sinai Peninsula. The local affiliate, known as Province of Sinai, killed 32 people in an attack on soldiers and police in January.

Algeria: Jund al-Khilafa, a splinter group of al-Qaida’s North African affiliate, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, declared allegiance to ISIS last fall. The group made international headlines with the beheading of a French hiker in September.

Jordan: Support for ISIS is believed to be strong in parts of southern Jordan, and the country, which shares borders with both Iraq and Syria, is a leading contributor of fighters to the Syrian civil war. But ISIS may have miscalculated with the burning of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, which enraged even some of its sympathizers.

Lebanon: ISIS doesn’t hold any territory in Lebanon, where Syrian refugees now make up a quarter of the population. But the group has been blamed for a number of terrorist attacks in the country and has threatened more.

Yemen: Yemeni officials say the group has thrown its hat into that country’s volatile conflict, competing with the still more dominant al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia: While many blame Saudi funding for facilitating ISIS’s early rise, a charge the government rejects, the kingdom has also been threatened by the group. Saudi Arabia claimed to break up a local ISIS cell last summer.

Afghanistan/Pakistan: Several former Taliban commanders have pledged their allegiance to ISIS, and this month, the U.S. military carried out its first strike against one of them in Afghanistan. A number of members of the Pakistan-based Tehrik-i-Taliban  have defected to a new ISIS-affiliate as well.

Former Soviet Union: A number of Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Russians from the Caucasus are believed to be fighting for ISIS. A group of Tajik militants fighting for influence in the Fergana Valley, long a hotbed of Islamist militant activity, have declared their allegiance to ISIS, as have some fighters in the North Caucasus.

Southeast Asia: Authorities in Malaysia and Indonesia say local radical groups planning attacks there have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

And beyond: ISIS sympathizers have carried out attacks in Canada, Australia, and most seriously in France, though in all of these cases, the attackers were most likely sympathizers acting on their own rather than under specific orders from the group. Alleged ISIS cells have been busted by authorities in Belgium, Spain, and Germany. At least 100 Chinese citizens are thought to be fighting for ISIS, raising concerns that the group could operate in that country’s already restive Xinjiang region. One of the group’s leading online propagandists turned out to be in India. But while a significant majority of Americans are concerned that the group is active in the United States, there’s been little evidence of such activity so far.
   

Pic - "What ISIS wants"

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

44's Middle East

Meet the new Middle East: a soon-to-be-nuclear and ascendant Iran, the spreading ISIS wasteland, Egypt and Libya as Somalia, and the end of Syria and Iraq. This was not foreordained, but instead the result of a series of bad mistakes.

I. Iran

Sanctions were starting to squeeze Iran, which had been unable to absorb Shiite-dominated Iraq. Unrest in Iran was rising, spearheaded by pro-Western young reformers. Less than a month after 44's inauguration, over a million Iranians hit the streets to protest their country’s rigged elections. The Europeans were beginning to understand that a nuclear Iran posed a greater threat of nuclear blackmail to the EU than to the U.S.

Poland and the Czech Republic had agreed to partner with the U.S. in creating an anti-ballistic missile system to deter Iran’s growing missile program. The U.S. and its friends occasionally sent armadas slowly through the Strait of Hormuz to remind Iran that we were determined that international waters would always remain international.

So what happened?

The new administration kept silent as the pro-Western Iranian protests deflated. In herky-jerky style, 44 at first upped the sanctions as Tehran ignored his serial empty deadlines on curbing enrichment. Then, unilaterally and without much warning, 44 relaxed sanctions. He reopened negotiations, even as Iran’s centrifuges multiplied. Currently, Iran is on the cusp of nuclear acquisition, and it quietly advises its supporters that the U.S. is both weak and naïve — and will soon be gone from the region.

Tehran is creating a sort of Co-Prosperity Sphere at the expense of Sunni and Western interests, as it sabotages Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. There is no longer talk of regional U.S.-led missile defense.

In brilliantly diabolical fashion, Iran has maneuvered a deer-in-the-headlights U.S. into an embarrassing de facto alliance with it against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The partnership was designed by Tehran to save the pro-Iranian Assad government, to bolster Hezbollah, to relieve diplomatic pressures on its own nuclear-enrichment program, and to increase tensions between the U.S. and the Sunni moderate states like Jordan and the Gulf monarchies.

There has never been a greater likelihood than there is now, under 44, that Iran will get the bomb, that it will create a radical theocratic Shiite alliance from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon, and that it will direct Hamas and Hezbollah to start another war against Israel — this time backed by an Iranian nuclear deterrent.

II. Iraq

In Iraq, U.S. strategy hinged on forcing the fledgling democracy to create loose alliances between Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, with the understanding that they would all resist both al-Qaeda and Iranian-sponsored Shiite affiliates. And from 2009 to 2011, consensual government in Iraq seemed to be working, albeit mostly through the implied threats that nearby U.S. troops would intervene if it did not.

The country was more quiet than not. Indeed, the U.S. military there was losing more personnel each month to accidents than to combat. In December 2009, three Americans were killed in Iraq — the lowest figure for any month since the war began. In December 2011, no Americans were lost.

44, who had opposed the Iraq war, termed the country “secure” and “stable.” Vice President Joe Biden, who as senator had voted for the war, bragged that it might become the administration’s “greatest achievement.” American proconsuls kept the pressure on Iranophile Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to treat Sunni tribes more equitably, and to keep Iraqi territory free of the Iranian military. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was comatose. Most Sunni Islamists had no desire for a replay of the Anbar Awakening and the Surge.

Then, for the sake of a 2012 reelection campaign point, 44 pulled out all U.S. constabulary troops at the end of 2011. The result was a void that drew in the dregs of the Middle East, as ISIS and the Iranian-back militias fought over the corpse of what used to be Syria and Iraq.

At the same time, the administration proclaimed empty red lines to Assad, in the manner it had given Iran empty deadlines — even as 44 called ISIS a “jayvee” team that posed little threat to the U.S or at least no more worries than what street criminals pose to the average big-city mayor.

A growing ISIS soon appealed to disenchanted Sunni tribes who felt that they had been ostracized by Baghdad, even as Iran encouraged the Iraqi government to ostracize them even more.

The ayatollahs’ great fear from 2008 to 2011 was that a viable, consensual Iraq on their border might weaken their theocratic control in Iran. Such anxiety vanished, replaced by a new confidence that, in the absence of U.S. garrisons, Tehran had turned Iraq into a vassal state.

III. Libya

When President Obama took office, Moammar Qaddafi was a psychotic monster in rehab. The U.S. was opening a new embassy in Tripoli. U.S. military officials were allowed nearly complete freedom to round up defunct WMD programs.

Western investors were welcomed in Libya. Westerners were talking of investing in Libyan enterprise zones, improving Libya’s oil and gas network, and reopening spectacular archaeological sites to tourism. Qaddafi had clamped down on Islamists, and seemed increasingly to be leaving decisions in the hands of his progeny. The Westernized next generation of Qaddafis were courted by the international jet set, and were subtly sending signals that even greater liberalization was on the horizon. Qaddafi had become a buffoon, not a beheader.

All that vanished when Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice ordered the bombings that turned Libya into a terrorist paradise, whose ultimate trajectory was Benghazi. They had turned up a day late and a dollar short in piggybacking on the Arab Spring unrest in Cairo. This time around they wanted to ride rather than watch the growing protests against Qaddafi — an odd thing, given their prior warnings about Bush-administration naïveté in trying to promote consensual government in the volatile Middle East by force of arms.

The first thing that went wrong was that the U.S. intervention violated U.N. resolutions — which we had supported — about actions limited to humanitarian assistance and no-fly zones. That double cross alienated the snookered Russians, who had signed on to the U.N. resolution.

Then the U.S. ceded its traditional military leadership to the French and British through a lead-from-behind recessional. It turned a new diplomatic presence into dead Americans and a wrecked consulate in Benghazi.

Libya’s oil and gas industries currently resemble Nigeria’s — on a good day. Tripoli is a Mogadishu on the Mediterranean. No Westerner in his right mind will set foot on Libyan soil. The Obama administration’s experience in Libya can be summed up by its election-cycle fraud of jailing an obscure video maker for supposedly causing a “spontaneous” demonstration in which the consulate was ruined and four Americans were killed, including the ambassador — a yarn that even its promulgators no longer believe.

IV. Egypt

In Egypt, the old kleptocrat Hosni Mubarak was accustomed to chronic U.S. scoldings to democratize, even as he kept offering his own pushback warnings about the worse alternative of Islamic theocracy. If Egypt was not so stable, it was also not chaotic.

Unfortunately, the U.S. saw the Arab Spring as an excuse to dump a tired old ally and to welcome in his stead the U.S.-educated Mohamed Morsi and the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. 44’s team perhaps believed we were the belated avatars of the Arab Spring, as if the latter were analogous to our own revolution rather than something akin to the 1917 nightmare in Russia or the 1950s cutthroat Baathist takeover from the old corrupt Middle East monarchs.

The administration assured us that the Brothers were “largely secular,” even as they almost immediately went to work Islamicizing the largest nation in the Arab world and subverting the very elections that had brought them to power.

Here the administration’s achievement is quite surreal: Somehow we remain Egypt’s largest donor while being hated by all three of Egypt’s major groups — Islamists, the army, and the rest — who hate each other only slightly less than they do us. In practical terms, the administration earned the hatred of the vibrant General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in place of the good will of his decrepit mentor Mubarak — at the same cost of multi-billion-dollar-a-year subsidies.

V. Little Satan

Little Satan recently inflicted serious damage on Hezbollah in the 2006 war in Lebanon. For all the talk of Little Satan's ineptitude in that war, the final toll on Iranian interests was considerable. There seemed no desire on Hezbollah’s part to replay its aggression. Strong U.S. support for Little Satan defensive measures discouraged Islamists from starting a new Intifada on the West Bank or in Gaza. Iranians worried that the U.S. might at any moment preempt their nuclear facility or welcome a Little Satan strike on them.

Not now. The administration immediately berated Little Satan for building houses around Jerusalem. Then came the Palestinian flotilla, and more American ambiguity. Then lectures during the Gaza war. The United States’ relationship with Little Satan is now at its weakest since the founding of the Jewish State. Administration aides leak slurs about war hero and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling him a “coward” and “chickensh-t,” as if 44’s open-mic smear of Netanyahu during the G-20 summit in Cannes was not enough.

The radical Arab world has a hunch that another war launched from Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, or Lebanon would not entirely anger a U.S. administration that is more worried about Jews building houses in Jerusalem than about Iranian subsidies to and military support of Hamas. When an American president characterizes an Islamic hit on a kosher market in Paris as a random attack, then it is clear — both to Americans and to the enemies of America — that Jews and Israel are mostly on their own.

Pic - "Next Month will be a Perfect Storm for the Middle East"