It has been a hectic first week back from the Syrian elections last week. I woke up Monday morning to find not only another ISIL “invasion” of Iraq taking place, but the Iraqi defenses appearing to have been caught totally by surprise and 90,000 soldiers in a broken retreat.
How could a small group of 3000 to 5000 insurgents, no matter how well trained and effective with local intelligence, be taking on such a numerically superior force on their home territory and superior firepower? Certainly after last year’s attacks, where they just drove across the open desert in convoys without being detected or attacked by Iraq’s air power, how could Baghdad allow this to happen again?
The story is still a bit murky. Tony Cartalucci has already covered the regional background and players in his earlier article, so I will not repeat his work, as NEO readers are generally up to date on the history.
In some of my past lives, one my fortes was picking up on things that had been over-looked. That starts here with its appearing that the Jihadis infiltrated this time in small groups, assuming that the open convoy methods of last year would no longer work. How did they know that?
Well, it seems that at least one of their backers informed them that the US had been doing routine drone flights over Western Iraq to keep an eye on the shifting sands of constant movement of the Gulf and Turkish-backed terrorist brigades across the borders. Corporate media seems to have some silly rule about not reporting on the satellite capabilities, but they can see everything that moves over any kind of ground and any kind of weather. They can also pick up all the command and control communications of an attacking force.
This begs an explanation for how a surprise attack could have happened. The Mideast is famous for its history of spies, and with over fifteen years of the current conflict, one would think that Baghdad would have infiltrated every threatening group to have early warning of any major attack. Whereas some pundits are blaming this all on their favorite Western opponent, those of us who have been professional analysts do not have the luxury of personal preference and bias.
For example, we all know a diverse group of countries wants to take Assad down. But that does not stretch to include saying that they all share the same reasons and motivations, when in this case many of them are competing ones. So any postulating that there is this all-knowing, all-controlling force running the show is a children’s book story. It is much messier than that, and will continue to be.
Tony has posed that Obama and NATO (including Turkey of course) are actually behind this current attack. Sure, they have been involved in much of the training, but the last I heard, Obama wanted the pressure kept on Assad to continue the war of attrition. Why would he want the Jihadis removed from that theater where the Syrian Army could take advantage to counterattack harder in their absence?
The US has spent $25 billion training the Iraqi Army, and another frightful sum on Afghanistan’s army. It is no secret that both were abject failures and a stain that will not wash off our military prowess report card any time soon. Having power is one thing, and wasting it is another. And people watching it being wasted is even more damaging. It reveals a paper tiger. So let’s take a look at the Iraqi Army.
We have all been hearing about how the ISIS onslaught pushed them back. But that is not really true. They were not pushed back. They ran… four divisions. And even that is not really true, because it is much worse. They did not break after engaging a fearsome enemy and taking huge casualties. They stripped off their uniforms and then ran. They deserted. Can you hear me now? Can you see the difference?
Do soldiers who strip off their uniforms take any equipment with them. No. Can they fight once at a new position they have retreated? No. Their performance has been the most disgraceful in recent history. A real army could have retreated in good order and safely so, while setting up endless ambushes with their superior firepower along the roads leading to Baghdad.
That is the fighting-retreat doctrine taught in every military academy in the world. Primitive peoples were doing this even before there were military academies. You want evidence of a defeated Army. Congress was briefed this week that soldiers defending the Green Zone now were spotted wearing civilian clothes under their uniforms. What the hell happened?
A fish stinks from the head, as the old saying goes. And right at the top on the Iraq army, you had poor leadership all the way down through the officer corps. Prime Minister al-Maliki had politicized the top ranks, replacing the professional soldiers with those more politically reliable, like he did with the well-respected Sunni general who had commanded the recently overrun areas, with a Shite.
Why was this done? It is generally because the army is viewed as a palace guard by all the various political powers. Governors in Iraq even have their own private armies. Funds budgeted for training are stolen. No one takes any responsibility for the resulting damage, as they see no one above them taking any. Call me what you will, but it is part of the culture, and it is why Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state. And without its oil revenues, despite its highly-educated people…it already would be.
The numbers were not easy to come by because they have been suppressed as they usually are when they are not good. Since the beginning of the year the Iraqi Army has lost six helicopters and had 60 damaged. On top of that, 28 M-1 Abrams tanks were taken out, five of those having been fully penetrated by tank-killer munitions.
This takes all the fun out of being a tanker, even when you are not fighting other tanks. The ISIS people had been trained on how to deal with tank and helicopter threats, and the Iraqi army knew it. Anyone want to make a bet on whether any of those had been repaired and returned to service?
The deterioration of the Iraqi Army was only reported to Congress this week. I had been wondering why we had not seen more air strikes, particularly while the ISIS people were spending so much time on the roads rolling south. Maybe the Iraqi Army was having trouble with pilots calling in sick.
So instead, we had mayors who had retreated calling on the city tribesmen to stand and fight the invaders. We were treated to the ludicrous claim that 1.5 million Iraqis were volunteering to fight the 3000 to 5000 ISIL invaders, when Iraq still had ten standing army divisions. What is on display here is an Iraqi leadership that is living in a fantasy world, something very dangerous to a country’s citizens. Americans are also suffering under a different but similar version of this affliction.
Even the Kurds were abused. When they made a defensive deployment southward to secure Kirkuk and its oil installations, the Western media spun that as a civil war exploitation move. What were the Kurds supposed to do, sit back and watch the Jihadis loot Kirkuk and threaten their flanks?
So Obama is caught in a pickle. He has committed to doing something, and air power is all that he has. We all know its limitation, especially when the ISIL is mixed in with the civilians now, and will have them strapped on the hoods of their vehicles when the bombing starts. They have already been executing policemen and soldiers after having taken almost no casualties. Once they start getting blown to shreds, they are going to get nastier.
If Obama bombs too lightly, the Republican Party will savage him with their self-serving election year charges of being a weak war time leader. Those dummies still think we have forgotten what a disaster they were. They aided and abetted in wrecking our country and want another chance at finishing the job. You just can’t make this stuff up.
If I were him I would bomb the crap out of the ISIS wherever they could be found, in Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. If he does anything, it needs to be a game changer. All half-measures are a lose-lose effort. The Frankenstein terror forces we have unleashed need a little flame thrower treatment to refocus their attention.
They say that Pandora can never be put back in the box once mischief gets out. But the only way out for Obama is to fix the problem he has created. In that regard he is somewhat trapped like the Iraqi Army brass and political leadership, by having led our countries down a dead end road. Under our uniform of freedom and democracy we wear aggression and failure.
George Bush was a prisoner of his own failed policies, but probably still is not even aware of it. I feel that Obama knows, but has the tooth-fairy affliction. No Mr. President, she is not coming to save you. You have to do it. You now have to fight the terror that you have created, sir. It’s your only good move. I will send my invoice the advice to the White House accounting office next week.