Tuesday, February 19, 2019

GWOT Fatigue Isn't Just an American Thing

While we are looking at things from an European POV so far this week, let's take a look at the Long War from a French front-line leader's perspective.

We've all felt his frustration. We, as in the West, are exceptionally casualty shy. We are willing to trade time for fewer deaths on our side. 

We will use our comparative advantage in air power and indirect fire as much as possible before putting infantry on the ground.

This "low investment/slow reward" strategy is not without its dangers though. We can lose patience, and the enemy can gain good PR by looking to be able to hold out longer than they otherwise would.

Let's head over to RFI. It is in French, so you will pardon this rough translation;
The commander of the French gunners supporting the Kurdish forces against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria claims that the victory could have been achieved faster and with less destruction if the Westerners had hired troops on the ground.

Colonel François-Régis Legrier, who has been in charge since October of the French artillery detachment (Task Force Wagram) in Iraq, makes this scathing statement in an article in the Journal National Defense (RDN) which makes the teeth cringe Staff of the armies.

The last major battle against ISIS, fought from September to December in the Hajine pocket in eastern Syria, " was won, but at a very slow pace , at an exorbitant cost and at the cost of many destructions, " says the officer.

IS jihadists now only hold a square kilometer plot in Deir Ezzor province (east) near the Iraqi border. And US President Donald Trump assured Friday that announcements would intervene " within 24 hours " on the end of the " caliphate " self-proclaimed.

" Of course, Westerners, by refusing to engage troops on the ground, have limited the risks and in particular that of having to explain to the public, " notes Colonel Legrier. " But this refusal questions: why maintain an army that one does not dare to engage? "Continues the officer, who uses an unprecedented freedom of speech for a military officer in operation.

According to him, 1,000 seasoned fighters would have been enough to " settle in a few weeks the fate of Hajine's pocket and (to) spare the population several months of war ". It took " almost five months and an accumulation of destruction to defeat 2,000 fighters with no air support, electronic warfare, special forces, or satellites, " he said.
If Col. Legrier's AOR sounds familiar to Front Porch regulars, it is because he leads the French unit that we talked about, in part, with Col. Seth Folsom, USMC eight months ago.

If you missed it the first time, give it a listen now.

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