Small Wars Journal

America Can Succeed Militarily in the Mideast. ISIS’s Defeat in Mosul Tells Us How.

America Can Succeed Militarily in the Mideast. ISIS’s Defeat in Mosul Tells Us How. By David Ignatius - Washington Post

What lessons can we take from the Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul and its coming eviction from Raqqa? The collapse of the caliphate tells us that the United States can succeed militarily in the Middle East if — and probably only if — it works with local forces who are prepared to do the fighting and dying.

Where the massive U.S. ground campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade and a half became expensive exercises in frustration, the war against the Islamic State has been far less costly in money and American lives — and also more successful. Amazingly, over the past three years, just five Americans have been killed in action in Syria and Iraq, according to the U.S. military.

The overall human toll has been horrific, even if Americans haven’t been paying the price. A triumphal Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in Mosul on Monday, but pictures of the city showed a devastated wasteland of pulverized buildings. We may never know how many thousands of civilians lie under the rubble.

Because the U.S. footprint and casualty levels have been so modest, to Americans this war has mostly been out of sight, out of mind. But it’s worth examining how the strategy has worked militarily — and to recognize the lack of any corresponding political strategy, which may well cause problems down the road.

The American campaign has been built around Special Operations forces. The SOF slogan has been that the battle must be waged “by, with and through” local partners. That has meant training, equipping and advising Iraqi and Syrian soldiers — then providing them with air support that has relentlessly pounded the enemy.

The most brutally efficient part of the campaign has been the secret “capture or kill” strikes by the United States and some of its partners. In simple terms, when the United States has had actionable intelligence about a terrorist operative, it has tried to take that person off the battlefield.

The marriage of local ground forces with U.S. drones, warplanes and intelligence has been potent…

Read on.



Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:50pm

If Senators Biden and Obama had not taken the view even then that Maliki was an obstruction to better relations with Iran and later the President's "Deal" we still do not know all the details about, we might have left American forces in Iraq and the Islamic State might never have been encouraged to invade Iraq from Syria while Obama was further denying the Maliki government anything but the sort of military aid given to bolster a Border Patrol.
The Washington Post's article is one of the most gratuitous acts of fake news coverage CYA I have witnessed in this century.