Monday, May 18, 2015

Calm and humble yourself; it is always the land you control, not the body count that matters

Good folks did some good work this weekend, according to reports:
A senior Islamic State leader was killed, and his wife captured, in a raid in eastern Syria by U.S. Special Operations forces, the first on-the-ground mission in that country targeting wanted extremists, defense officials said on Saturday

The operation was conducted at Al-Amr, in the eastern region of Syria, to capture Abu Sayyaf and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, also thought to be part of the organization, Pentagon officials said.

During the mission late Friday, Abu Sayyaf “engaged U.S. forces” and was killed. Special Operations forces, however, captured Umm Sayyaf, the Pentagon said.
All is well and good, to go after their leadership - but we should temper any excessive optimism by this one fact; in the Long War, the theory of "decapitation attacks" failed to gather the results we thought it would - and it still won't. Nice to have, but not key.

We kill and capture leadership all the time, but they will simply replace them. This was true even before the enemy was building a quasi-State - but it is even more true now that the enemy is taking and holding significant amount of territory for a length of time that, as we discussed at the New Year on Midrats, they will soon move from quasi-State to actual State - if not already there.

That is why, once the hooting about Abu Sayyaf reaching room temperature is over, the below is the more important news of the Long War from the weekend;
The key Iraqi city of Ramadi fell to ISIS on Sunday after government security forces pulled out of a military base on the west side of the city, the mayor and a high-ranking security official said.

The ISIS advances came after militants detonated a series of morning car bomb blasts, Mayor Dalaf al-Kubaisy and a high-ranking Iraqi security official said. The explosions forced Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters to retreat to the city's east, they said.
Ramadi is the capital to Anbar, and is the key to the western approaches to Baghdad. That is why hundreds of Americans died to take and hold it.

A bunch of Shia militia trying to take it back will only do one thing; drive the Sunni of Anbar to go in the only other place available - the arms of the Islamic State.

Enough talk about "offset" introspective think-bits that have the whiff of fried-air; how about we discuss the croc closest to the canoe here ... what about Iraq?

UPDATE: Required reading by our friend James S. Robbins over at USAToday;
But ISIL's victory in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, shows that the group can seize and hold important ground. ISIL is more than a ragtag guerrilla army; it can field combat units potent enough to defeat Iraq's U.S.-trained conventional forces. The world has again seen the image of the Iraqi army retreating in disarray, and the brutal slaughter and enslavement of civilians that always follow in the wake of Islamic State conquests. ISIL is making good on its vision of being a quasi-state, taking, holding and governing vast territories in Iraq and Syria.

Perceptions are critical in irregular wars, and the perception in the region is that the Islamic State is winning. ISIL now openly controls the Iraqi cities of Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul, which is more than its parent al-Qaeda franchise could ever have claimed at the height of its insurgency. It is a sobering fact that all the gains made during the execution of the coalition's 2007 "surge" strategy that pacified western Iraq have been given back to the extremists.

UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo: One of the better video reports? Oh, all our money? Yes, at the 0:58 point, that is a Lee-Enfield wrapped with duct tape. Hope and change, indeed.

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