Thursday, September 11, 2014

'In the end, there will be no alternative to substantial US ground forces'

"... Obama appears to have a mass of moving parts in his campaign plan:
- The plan assumes that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey can be made into active supporters of an anti-IS "war."  Qatar and Saudi Arabia were the only Wahhabi dominated states until IS proclaimed its caliphal status.  These two countries are deeply sympathetic to IS' goals if not its methods.  Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia were instrumental in the early stages of development of IS as it morphed from AQ Iraq, into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and then to a final glory as IS.  [[[[[[[[[[Do we really think it will be easy to enlist Qatar and Saudi Arabia in this fight?]]]]]]]]]]  Do we really think that these deeply Sunni states are going to support continued Shia governance from Baghdad?
- Erdogan's Turkey has been a supporter of Sunni governments and movements from the moment he took office.  Remember Erdogan's refusal to allow US troop transit (4th Infantry Division) for entry into Iraq from the north in 2003.  To this day, [[[[[[[[[Erdogan is not allowing]]]]]]]]]]]{ the use by the US of air bases in Turkey.  Those air bases would greatly facilitate air operations in Iraq and Syria.  It should be remembered as well that Erdogan's Turkey provided shelter, supply lines, transit rights and training space for IS among other Sunni jihadi groups fighting in Syria.  The Turks are still doing this.
- There is a new face in Shia government in Baghdad.  A new cabinet has been suggested as a possibility by the existence of that face. Unfortunately the two most important cabinet posts, Defense and Interior, [[[[[[[[[[have not been ]]]]]]]]]]]appointed yet.  IMO there will be a mighty struggle among the Shia Arabs over the issue of assignment of these two ministries to Sunni Arabs.  The Shia know that if they do not control the police and the army, they do not control Iraq.
- Obama intends to [[[[[[[[simultaneously]]]]{]]] wage war in eastern Syria against IS while also waging war in Western Syria against the Syrian Government.   He, apparently [[[[[[[intends to ignore]]]]]]]]] the possible cooperation of Syria with regard to airfields and air units as well as Syrian, and/or Hizbullah ground forces.  Churchill said that to fight Hitler he would fight him in hell if necessary and make an alliance with the devil to do it.  In accordance with that idea he allied the UK with the USSR.  Obama also intends to increase arms deliveries to "moderate" Syrian guerrillas.  IMO these groups never amounted to much militarily.  They were always the "unicorn army," and could never have defeated Syria's government no matter  what you gave them.  And in fact the "moderates" have among them many pro-jihadi people. 
- Yet another military axiom holds that "you can never have too many friends on a battlefield."  Iran is making friendlier noises concerning possible discreet cooperation and de-confliction of operations with a Western led coalition, but, no, even now[[[[[]]]]]] Iran's advances are re-buffed publicly ]]]]]]]]]]]because Saudi Arabia and Israel don't like the idea. If Israel doesn't like something, well, that is the end of that thought.
- The notion is being nurtured by people like Robert Scales that something like the McChrystal led JSOC counter-terrorism campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan will deal comfortably with IS.  As Larry Johnson pointed out on this site, that campaign was about small raids against personalities, raids usually conducted in the dark of night and within territory dominated by friendly conventional forces.  [[[[[[[[[[IS is nothing like that target set.]]]]]]]]]]]  This is a real guerrilla army, with real forces who run a real government that is now coming into being.  We should stop calling them terrorists and start calling them the enemy.
- Obama is firm that conventional US ground forces will not be committed to this war.  That means that other, foreign, forces will have to be found to act in coopertion with US and NATO air power.  Who will they be?

    *  Turkey is "out" for the reasons stated above.  The Turks were the most obvious choice for the job.    *  The Iraqi army is  a shambles.  It will take years to try to make something of it.  Remember, we failed the last time.  Don't expect the Iraq army to be much help.    *  The Pesh Merga are a guerrilla self defense force.  Give them heavy weapons?  Certainly, but it will take time for them to learn to use them effectively and the PM are unlikely to want to fight outside their homelands.  There are other Kurdish forces in eastern Syria but the Turks will be unhappy with strengthening them.    *  The Egyptian army is large, inept and unlikely to be willing to fight in Syria or Iraq.  Sisi and the other generals will want to keep them at home to control any possible Islamist uprisings in Egypt.    *  Jordan will be fully occupied with its own defense and a large Islamist 5th Column.    *  Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait have little in the way of ground forces that have actual combat power.
In the end, if a decisive outcome is desired, there will be ************no alternative to substantial US ground forces************.  That will mean reconstruction of the US logistical and command and control base in Iraq as well as the use of several air bases.  Is Obama going to demand legal extra-territoriality for our forces as a precondition? He should, but, will he?
A long campaign against IS will require the re-recruitment of Sunni Arab tribes in Iraq.  It can be done.  They hate the wahhabi jihadis and they will manage to forget our previous betrayal in favor of the Shia.  They more or less expected it then and will again, but the money will be good as will be the guns and the comradeship of the handful of Americans who like them.
Economic warfare, police action in the home countries of the West, border controls, yet tighter restrictions on personal freedoms in the West, these are all more moving parts.
I have no doubt that the US Congress will give Obama whatever he wants and the Republicans will then wait for next year for their chance to settle up with Obama.
Too many moving parts.  pl "

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