Sounds like a plan …


The leftist media in the US keeps goading Trump to execute all his various programs by sometime later this week.  Among his goals/aims/legislation is his stated intent to "put paid" to IS and presumably to hang Baghdadi from a sour apple tree. (obscure WBS reference)

Well, pilgrims, I think THE PLAN will not be announced.  It will merely be executed, AND IT HAS COMMENCED!

James Mattis, in his generalissimo mode of action has, IMO, been given the imperial wave of dismissal and sent forth to destroy IS.  "Make it so!"

The signs abound:

1.  Much greater coordination and "de-confliction" between the US and Russia in air operations against IS (and hayat tahrir al-sham).  I note that "hayat tahrir al-sham" has now been designated as a terrorist organization by the US government.  This makes them  fully available under the AUMF as playmates in the big game of kill the jihadi terrorists.

2.  The insertion of a USMC artillery battery and support troops to provide fire support for operations in the Raqqa area.  (Presumably the battery position is north of Raqqa in SDF dominated territory.

3.  Several hundred soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment have been positioned in and around Manbij to referee among the Turks, SAA, SDF et al for the evident reason of keeping unwanted actors out of the coming battle to take the supposed caliphate's capital.

4.  The 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division has been deployed to Kuwait from which General Votel the Centcom commander says it will be deployed to the north.  One can assume that a "slice" of division and corps level artillery, armor and other assets will go with them.

I estimate these signs to indicate that Trump and his generalissimo have decided to roll the iron dice and commit whatever force is necessary to destroy IS in both Syria and Iraq.

Bravo! But I wonder how well Trump's psyche will hold up  when paratroopers from the 82nd start arriving at Dover AFB in significant numbers.  War kills.  pl

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118 Responses to Sounds like a plan …

  1. The R+6 also seems ready to make their move on Idlib with their own plan. Al Masdar reports:
    “Sources report that between 25,000-30,000 soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, and Iranian forces are preparing for a major operation in the Idlib countryside that is expected to last for at least three months. The operation will be launched from several axes, including the Jisr Al-Shughour front located at the western part of the Idlib Governorate. The Syrian Arab Army will focus on Jabal Al-Zawiyah and Jisr Al-Shughour, while the Iranians and Hezbollah attempt to lift the siege on Kafraya and Al-Fou’aa.”

  2. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    It looks like to paraphrase TTG “The sh*t is on”! Good. Time for the jihadis to meet up with their virgins in the sky.
    I just hope President Trump and his generalissimo will allow Assad to consolidate Syria and continue with a multi-confessional secular state as an example of what could have been, if Dubya and his neocon assistants did not destroy Iraq.
    In a case of hypothetical, what would have happened if we had allowed Saddam to keep Kuwait and possibly even take Saudi Arabia? It would seem there would not have been a such a jihadi problem. Oil would not have been an issue as he would have to sell and the shale revolution in the Permian would have kept a lid on prices.

  3. sid_finster says:

    I am not sure that is what is happening. Instead, it looks like “regime change” under another name.

  4. turcopolier says:

    Sid, ole buddy, you think what you like. pl

  5. Daniel Nicolas says:

    Without foreign intervention, the Syrian war “will take a few months” to bring to an end, Assad noted.
    “The complexity of this war is the foreign intervention. This is the problem,” he said.

    Assad isn’t wrong, and for him to go on record for anything less would not be wise.
    that said, the obvious communication between the various groups of people on the ground and actually getting the work done is necessary and I’m glad it looks like more and more of it is happening

  6. aleksandar says:

    There’s no virgin in the sky. It’s a translation error from araméen to arabic. It refer in araméen to vineyards and grapes. It is consistent with all the references to Abraham ( Lord’s vineyards) made by Mahomet in the Coran.

  7. different clue says:

    If this results in ISIS deleted, followed by the deletion and erasure of all “zones of insolence” aside from Idlib Province; one may hope the final endpoint is a careful and final ” mills of God” approach to the jihadi sump of Idlib Probince.
    If it happens this way, it may leave a legacy of productive deconfliction with Russia to be enjoyed and perhaps extended. Perhaps to mutual de-proxification from the various players in Ukraine and finally a diplomatic deconfliction between the Russiagov and the USAgov in general.

  8. aleksandar says:

    IMO Tiger forces goal was to prevent turks to stole more syrian soil after conquering Al Bab.Done.
    The second objective was the water pumping station.Done.
    The thrid is expelling IS from the west side of Euphrat to have back oil and gas fields.In the making
    These are political gains.
    About Idleb, I guess that so far SAA has not enough manpower to treat this cancer.Liberating all jihadist pocket around Damascus, Hama and Homs is possible.It’s both a polital and military objective.
    Both COA ( pocket and expelling IS from the west Euphart river ) will free around 10K SAA soldiers ready for the mother of battle,Idleb.
    As long as jihadists are killing each others in Idleb province there’s no need to be hasty.
    And maybe, recent pro assad protest and the pace of reconciliation are for Damas the best short term tools to reduce size of the battle fied and have a better concentration of forces.

  9. VietnamVet says:

    Based on your experience, I agree that the war to eliminate the Islamic State is on. Except, nobody has told us anything, officially.
    The basic contradictions persist. Who will fight block by block to take Raqqa? Not Americans? Not the Kurds? If Mosul is an indication, Sunnis will die to the last true believer if the Jihadi families can’t be bussed out. Turkey is blocked. Who will be the occupiers of Eastern Syria? The Syrian Arab Army has a legitimate right to be in Raqqa. Will Israel and the Gulf Monarchies sit idly by while the Shiite Crescent is made whole? Too many questions.
    If the 21st century has shown us anything, it is that corporate supranational rule brings only inequality and chaos. If there is ever going to be peace and the flow of refugees ended, national governments must be rebuilt under the rule of law and their borders secured. Then national alliances can be built that address the world’s problems.

  10. Ghostship says:

    I’d suggest yet more smokescreen – Trump’s biggest problem is going to be the domestic opponents of this switch among the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. As well as the Tweeting and “lies”, he’s now has Bashir Al-Assad bad mouthing him so who’s going to believe claims that Trump has effectively switched sides on Syria. Which is also probably why Russia and Iran haven’t been invited to the Friends of HTS (aka Qatar) and ISIS (aka KSA) meeting in Washington on March 22-23rd.
    Do I have any evidence for all the above? A bit but not much but when recently has a lack of evidence stopped anyone from making the most outlandish claims. If HRC and the DNC can do it, so can I.
    As for the next month or so, I reckon the SAA are going to spend the time putting HTS, etc. from Idlib through the meat grinder in west Aleppo Governorate hence all the publicity about the SAA sending reinforcements to the Al-Zahra front north west of Aleppo to attack Al-Layramoun and Kafr Hamra. It looks like HTS have taken the bait.
    “Opposition activists claimed a large convoy consisting of several militant groups were heading northeast from the Idlib Governorate to the Al-Malaah and Al-Zahra areas of Aleppo on Tuesday.”

  11. Seamus Padraig says:

    Are they trying to get Syria partitioned? Is that why they’re in a hurry to beat Russia and Syria to Raqqa? AFAIK, the Russians have not reacted publicly to this, but the initial reaction from the Syrians seem to be hostile … or at least suspicious.

  12. sid_finster says:

    I have no insider knowledge or special insight, but explain to me, in light of the link I provided, how I am wrong.

  13. turcopolier says:

    Why should I? I stated my position. pl

  14. turcopolier says:

    Why should they? Did they announce the Overlord plan to the public in 1944? pl

  15. Willybilly says:

    You’re right in your assessment, plus, SAA doesn’t need to poke Erdogan some more right now…..since all the boys in Idleb province are his troops, wholly controlled Takfiris on the loose, courtesy of Hakan Fidan and MIT….
    It can wait for while…..

  16. Stonevendor says:

    Do we have the capability of taking Raqqa? With enough men and materiel that is probably so. It will likely get very bloody, but these are determined troops. I don’t doubt they can kill and/or capture many members of the IS. I also can recall apartments from my college days when I would walk into the kitchen at night, flip the light switch and see the roaches scatter. I suspect that there will be IS members who go to ground and wait for another day. There is no eliminating IS completely. Not until the support from Riyadh stops. The question I keep asking myself is what happens after the fall of Raqqa? Are we going to play Sheriff? Who will constitute the government? We did a quick job of overrunning Baghdad and then things began to got messy.

  17. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    VV: Indeed..way too many Qs. As for the old boy being given a “wave”.. doubtfull that Mattis could feel it. Punt.

  18. turcopolier says:

    I don’t understand you. Mattis knows that he is Trumps deputy to be dismissed at will. pl

  19. turcopolier says:

    Do you want to fight to defense shared civilization or do you wan to surrender to the medievalists? Make your choice or shut up. pl

  20. turcopolier says:

    No. It should already have been dealt with. pl

  21. turcopolier says:

    This is not a matter for lawyers. If you want to argue like that, argue inside the US. pl

  22. sid_finster,
    Yes, Assad has called us invaders of Syria. Unlike the Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah and recent Iraqi air strikes we are not in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate Syrian government. Nor are the Turks. The YPG/SDF certainly seems agreeable to our being there, but I doubt that makes it legal under international law. We are there illegally, although the AUMF probably satisfies our national laws, to destroy IS and kill jihadis. I hope that personal declaration makes you happy. I’m totally fine with every aspect of it.
    As to your idea that we just traded our FSA unicorns for the much more effective YPG/SDF to act as our “Assad must go” surrogates, I think that’s a valid concern. If that’s our plan, then Trump’s ass is borg through and through and we are all as stupid as the day is long to allow that policy to stand. We should leave as soon as the jihadi scum are nothing more than corpses rotting in the desert sand. With luck, the R+6 will accept some Green Berets in the area to assist in demobilizing/integrating the YPG/SDF into the SAA.

  23. JMH says:

    They are there with the de facto permission of the SAG, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  24. sid_finster says:

    You stated your position but unless I misunderstand, you didn’t state the reasoning behind it, or why my position is wrong.

  25. Mishkilji says:

    “Has any consensus for this military action been sought at the UN?”
    Do your homework: read UNSCR 2249

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The area in question will revert to SAR; US will not administer Raqqa.
    Trump’s approach is politically astute, he will leave Assad alone and destroy ISIS – who could argue with the destruction of ISIS?
    Not even France or Saudi Arabia or the Shoah Cultists could criticize him publicly.
    The capture of Raqqa, like the capture of any belligerent’s capital, means the end for ISIS even though its ideas will live on for many more years.
    If Trump is indeed the astute businessman that he claims to be, then he knows that the equities that the Western Fortress and Gulfies have sunk in Syria have been lost an it is best not to throw good money after bad.
    So he is now fulfilling another of his promises, destroying ISIS – which was always a strategic threat to every single US-friendly government in that part of the world, save Israel.
    He will politically come on top if ISIS is destroyed in Raqqa in an expeditious manner.

  27. J says:

    Assay was recently interviewed and asked about U.S. Troops on Syrian soil, to which Assad called them “invaders” since they had not been invited into Syria.

  28. J says:

    Here is the url of the Assad interview with Chinese TV where he refers to uninvited guests as invaders:

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    May be, but I think many a devout Muslim man would expect to be rewarded with those seven virgins.
    Once I asked one of the senior professors advice on how to handle grading errors; I has mistakenly given full marks where I should not have.
    His reply was that it was very difficult to take back marks after they had been given out.
    While it is difficult, nary impossible, to fathom the Almighty, I for one would not be surprised if He acts on the basis of charity and generosity and to reward the faithful as they had been led to expect.
    In other words, I would be surprised if God nickle-and-dimes them.

  30. mike says:

    TTG –
    Have also seen unconfirmed reports that rebels from the el-Waar neighborhood of Homs will be bussed to Idlib. That supposedly is based on the initial round of negotiations Saturday the 11th between Homs rebels and Russian/Syrian representatives. Some of the rebels had wanted to go to Jarabulus but the regime is not going for that. Russian MPs to enter el-Waar and guarantee the exit.
    If true, then what? Hard to tell deception from truth on the ground.

  31. mike says:

    1664RM –
    68 worlwide but only a few of those are in Syria. Others are in Iraq, or have signed up to engage Daesh in their own neighborhoods.
    List is here:
    But I agree that mission creep may take place after Raqqa. Let’s hope not.
    PS – I’ll raise a pint to you on 28 October.

  32. Jackrabbit says:

    Further evidence? Netanyahu’s plea to Putin to rid Syria of Iranian influence (rebuffed).

  33. mike says:

    Sid_finster –
    RT as usual left out the full story of that Assad interview, and just published the parts that suited Moscow.
    “Assad said on Saturday that he is open to cooperation with the new US administration over President Donald Trump’s ‘promising’ policies for the civil war in Syria.
    Asked whether there was potential for cooperation with the new US administration, the Syrian president said: “In theory, yes, but practically, not yet, because there’s no link between Syria and the United States on the formal level.”
    Although there was no contact between Damascus and Washington, Assad said he was open to formal talks.”
    Perhaps Moscow is miffed that Assad is offering China the opportunity to take part in reconstruction work in every sector of Syria’s economy. After the war of course.

  34. mike says:

    Sid_finster –
    PS – Assad’s China offer is here:

  35. Lemur says:

    Col., i think you’re right that the Trump Admin and the Kremlin are quietly on the same page.
    The Manbij maneuver blocking the Turks looked highly coordinated – America showed force in the city, while Russia handled the perimeter saving two NATO forces from coming to blows.
    Had the Russians wanted to be difficult, they could have left the Kurds and the Turks to go at it, which would have scuttled the Kurdish push toward Raqqah City, and given the SAA a head start.
    However, Putin did state recently he believed securing the territorial integrity of Syria was a prerequisite to the peace process. Evidently the Russian believe their diplomatic clout will be sufficient to reunify Syria after the US proxies have done their job.

  36. Stonevendor says:

    “Do you want to fight to defense shared civilization or do you wan to surrender to the medievalists? Make your choice or shut up. pl” Sounds like 2003 again. I guess I shouldn’t have raised the question of the exit strategy.

  37. Andy says:

    I hope this is the case. The fact that Mattis and McMaster are running the show gives me a lot of confidence. Mattis, in particular, is definitely the most respected General officer of my generation. I hope and pray he can navigate the minefields of the Pentagon as well as those in Iraq.
    To be honest, I’m not sold on Trump at all (I don’t regret my vote for Johnson one bit), but this is certainly a 1000 times better than a Clintonian R2P no fly zone nonsense. If she had won we’d have a bunch of think-tank academics running the show, doubling down on 25 years of foreign policy failure.

  38. Kutte says:

    Seems the the Russians and Americans aim for a repeat of the cold war scenario in Europe. The Russians kept “their” Germans on a short leash, the Americans likewise, whilst both pursued their own interests and never crossed red lines. Both sides want a ceasefire, the question is not terrorist or not terrorist, it is ceasefire or not. Those on both sides unwilling to agree to a ceasefire will be allowed to be taken out by the other side. Diplomacy and wheeling and dealing will rule. And of course, diplomacy is the continuation of war by other means.

  39. turcopolier says:

    The big difference is that you Germans on both sides could be trusted after the Cold War. None of the jihadis can ever be trusted. pl

  40. turcopolier says:

    We have several Andys on SST. Pls pick a different name. pl

  41. turcopolier says:

    The “exit strategy” is that you leave and don’t indulge yourself in R2P nation building nonsense. pl

  42. wisedupearly says:

    Will the House of Saud fall when the jihadis are routed?

  43. turcopolier says:

    not unless they really run out of money. pl

  44. trinlae says:

    Thanks, Col. for injecting the clear distinctions between roles, goals, and contexts re war v. diplomacy v. civil administration etc., even though the cogwheels are interlocked or confounded to some degree especially in the case of autocrats and dreams of neocons.
    No doubt this muddling in US recent past has led to excessive tail-wagging-the-dog leadership and exploitation of US foreign policy by KSA, Israel, NATO members, etc. A new day seems to have dawned. Still, let us never consider due diligence and accountability optional privileges, considering the sanctity of human lives at stake.
    Regarding the partition meme, perhaps parties *eventually* could aim for a buffer zone model in those eastern border regions, if a modicum of enduring peace and stability could be achieved for its foundations?
    One thing USA and Russia and ME players all know is that Europe is not interested in playing permament domicile hostess to refugees (ditto for China and India where they also turn up), so whatever coalition strategy it takes to keep Syria intact and viable for swift return of refugees will be given strong if unspoken support, no matter how many tears are shed by regime-changists wherever they are.
    My thoughts and prayers are with those fighting on the ground and I pray for swift and merciful dignities for all casualties and their families.

  45. LondonBob says:

    It’s the part after that concerns me. A longer term occupation force shows that some old bad habits remain (Israel and Saudi Arabia first, lessons not learnt from Iraq etc.), however should Raqqa be transferred over to the Syrian government then Trump et al. deserve an enormous amount of credit.

  46. turcopolier says:

    You are Australian but your “handle” would indicate a British Marine. As to the legality in international law of what we are now doing you should consult the UN resolution that mishkilji cited. UNSCR 2249 pl

  47. trinlae says:

    I am not a long time reader of the SST so am not really the best one to speak on this, but the forum is a committtee of correspondence and not a debating society.
    This is a historical reference that might help:

  48. trinlae says:

    The indigenous Native American “Two Row Wampum” treaty establishment process can be viewed as a historical precedent to the Committee of Correspondence.
    Chief Oren Lyons dates the use to the early 1600s, and gives a 4 minute introduction here (there are longer seminars online too):

  49. turcopolier says:

    Yes. I do not want SST to become a place where people feel they can’t express an opinion without having to debate someone who has a different view. BTW UNSCR 2249 is the international law justification for war against both ISIS and AQ. pl

  50. sid_finster says:

    As I said, I have no special insight or inside information.
    But it seems to me that a simpler answer is that Assad isn’t sure how far Russia will back him in getting rid of his uninvited guests. Will they go all the way to WWIII?

  51. turcopolier says:

    IMO Assad’s statement is being taken far too seriously. IMO it was a rhetorical gesture in support of Syrian sovereignty. What Assad really wants is a renewed relationship with the US government. Russia hs no intention of fighting the US over anything. pl

  52. alba etie says:

    Col Lang ,
    Its being reported that the House of Saud now have exploitable commercial gold mines , wonder if this will keep them in power indefinitely . ( new Saudi gold mine starts producing 18,000 ounces per year ).

  53. alba etie says:

    sid finster.,
    I have extreme misgivings about the DST administration ,especially regarding the proposed gutting of the State Department ‘s budget. But if Mattis & McMasters can destroy Daesh ,& keep Syria intact without the US staying involved then I will definitely stand and applause, and give great credit to POTUS 45 …

  54. sid_finster says:

    Without going into details, I am not here to debate.

  55. Fred says:

    Why are you concerned with Trump cutting the State Department’s budget?

  56. sid_finster says:

    Turcopolier: i hope that you are right, and that you stay right.

  57. turcopolier says:

    I have had a long and intimate experience of the State Department and I think you have no idea what useless, backbiting, precious people a lot of them are. Don’t confuse the level of State Department funding with how effective diplomacy may be. pl

  58. Jackrabbit says:

    Dunford has played an important role.
    Dunford met with Gerasimov on February 21 in Baku, Azerbaijan. And he met with Gerasimov and Hulusi Akar (Chief of the Turkish general staff) on March 7.
    “The meeting in Azerbaijan was the first face-to-face meeting between Dunford and Gerasimov since the two militaries cut off communications in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.”

  59. turcopolier says:

    A lot of that budget is probably in USAID and the BS bombers at USIA. pl

  60. Jackrabbit says:

    I think there is an expectation among some that Trump would quickly restore US-Russia relations and leave Syria. That is unrealistic. US will secure any gains until negotiations reach an agreement as Mattis explains here:
    “We are not in a position right now to collaborate on the military level, but our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground,” Mattis said, but the U.S. and NATO could only negotiate with Moscow “from a position of strength.”

  61. mike says:

    Lemur –
    The Russians handled only the western perimeter. The northern perimeter along the Sajour River was handled by American Rangers along the Sajour river.

  62. Bobo says:

    Might be time for another Tweet or two to send the MSM a flutter for another week or two. Seems to work.

  63. JJackson says:

    and President Trump told us quite plainly (in the press conference linked to and discussed here) that he had no intention of giving any advanced notice of his military intentions. Which seems prudent and logical.

  64. trinlae says:

    For Sunday chaplain’s blessing to troops, commanders, and advisors, the slideshow accompanying this ancient blast from the past Rolling Stones track is remarkably poignant yet suitable for contemplating the gravity of the situation while it also inspires taking stock of our wisdom gained from past experience that is solid ground for optimism.

  65. JJackson says:

    re.UNSCR 2249
    pl were you implying this is the legitimating mandate? If so I did not read it like that. I took it to mean ‘get IS & AQ’ but with the clearly stated caveat it must be done with regard to international law, humanitarian law and a whole host of other extant UN constraints.

  66. Kooshy says:

    Even this late in the game, with all the blames and mishaps, I have a feeling, no, no I have a dream if US government would have recognized THE UN recognized, legal and legitimate government of Syrian Arab Republic, and would have offered to help Syria to get rid of ISIS and AQ terrorist and even to liberate eastern Syria from this terrorism she would have been welcomed to do so, like Syria did before. Can we imagine how beautiful and exemplary lesson that would have been to the rest of the world, and to future of international law as well as UN.
    Can’t see Why not? We have a new administration, can simply say and change it’s policy and become a hero to world, like back in 40s

  67. steve says:

    I have no doubt that we can eliminate IS, just like I had no doubt we could invade and take over Iraq. The issue was, and remains, what comes after? Will it really be better this time? Is there any sort of plan? I feel a bit better having McMaster and Mattis involved this time, but those decisions are made above their pay grade.

  68. Donald says:

    Slightly off topic, but it is about Syria so I think people will be interested–
    Gareth Porter argues that UN investigattors rely much too heavily on the claims made by White Helmut spokespeople.

  69. JMH says:

    It needs to be stripped down to the studs so a new generation of wise men can be cultivated, hopefully drawn from the veterans of our recent wars.

  70. Sam Peralta says:

    What’s up with the Sultan these days?
    Seems like he’s riling the Germans and now the Dutch.

  71. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    At today’s per ounce price of $1,207.20 that’s less than $22M per year. Chump change in comparison to their oil revenues. Their production rate and/or the price per ounce have a long way to be before gold becomes a significant factor for them.

  72. EEngineer says:

    Theatrics to distract the from the fact that his Syria campaign is not going to plan.

  73. FkDahl says:

    I like this article talking about high IQ low common sense, and why it is so prevalent today. In short high IQ people want to signal their high IQ to other potential mates or rivals and therefor seek solutions not anchored in common sense. Another factor is that high IQ is related to a slightly naive openness that is perfectly fine down in the lab but not out on the streets.

  74. turcopolier says:

    There is a story on SF from Izvestia supposedly that the assault on Raqqa will include a battalion (600 men roughly) of the 75th Ranger Regiment. That would be engaged alongside SDF. That is a rather small force for a job like that. there is also a story out there that another battalion (unidentified) has been flown into Ain al-Assad air base in western Iraq. pl

  75. Jackrabbit says:

    >> the second bullet point reads as follows …
    That passage is essentially a safe-keeping passage so no country that answers the “Call … to eradicate [ISIL’s] safe haven” can seize territory and any attack on Syrian forces is still an act of war, etc.
    >> The elephant in the room … The bitter irony … collective amnesia …
    Ironically, you fail to mention (amnesia?) that the Presidential election was between a candidate that wanted to double-down in Syria and one that would tackle “the elephant in the room.”
    “whose idea was it”?
    As I recall, after it became clear that Iran would be the main beneficiary of the Iraq War, Saudi Arabia talked of starting their own nuclear effort.
    I’m quite sure that Israel and USA were both unhappy with the prospect of a nuclear KSA and convinced Saudi Arabia to use extremists instead (modeled after the Afghanistan Mujahedin that defeated the Soviets). The resulting Israeli-Saudi strategic alliance of 2006 is described by Seymour Hersh in “The Redirection” (link below). The US blessed this arrangement an acted as guarantor of the safety of both.
    After a (lengthy) period of trying to entice Assad to leave, organizing color revolutions as precursor, the “revolution” in Syria finally got underway in 2011.
    AFAICT, US establishment (bi-partisan), including neocons, CIA and MIC went along or were enthusiastic supporters. Other countries were brought along as necessary or looked the other way because they expected to get BIG reconstruction contracts after the war.
    It wasn’t ‘amnesia’ as much as HUBRIS and GREED that caused this calamity. And there’s plenty of blame to go around. I think Israeli lobbies, Western security agencies, and their media assets acted as enforcers so that few said anything and the few that did were not listened to.

  76. turcopolier says:

    I’ll buy the HUBRIS part but not the GREED. You seem to think hat policy is immutable. pl

  77. trinlae says:

    Okay. Thanks for clarifying and sorry if I underestimated your aims.

  78. FourthAndLong says:

    Sounds to me as though a partition plan is lurking somewhere. Izzies must be pleased, if so.

  79. pl,
    The SF article also said the 3/75 has been training for six months to conduct this mission in Raqqa. This implies a continuity of planning from the Obama to the Trump administrations. The description of the tactics reminds me of a series of recon by fire missions to identify specific targets to be reduced by fire and raids to secure specific objectives to induce the jihadi defenders into conducting costly counterattacks. These tactics were earlier employed by the Rangers in Afghanistan. Urban combat operations have changed a lot since I first learned them.

  80. turcopolier says:

    The tactics described seem unrealistic to me. Once you go in you have to finish the job. pl

  81. Mishkilji says:

    On UN 2249:
    Let me help you–focus on “all necessary measures” and “eradicate the safe haven they have established in over significant parts of Iraq and Syria” below. The reaffirming language is foreplay, here is the money shot:
    5. Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;

  82. Jackrabbit says:

    I wonder if honorable people can really understand greed. I think it is a blind spot for them.
    I believe that a Wall Street-er (having worked there) would say just the opposite: “I can understand the GREED, but not the HUBRIS”.
    Maybe there was MORE hubris than greed but IMO these two are generally found cavorting together.
    Consider: Political pay-to-play schemes (like Clinton Foundation). Is this arrangement based in GREED or HUBRIS?

  83. pl,
    A defense against these tactics would be to remain highly mobile rapidly moving from defensive position to defensive position by covered and concealed tunnels. I think that’s possible in Raqqa. The jihadis have had plenty of time to prepare. I’d like to learn more about these new street fighting tactics. These new tactics seem to put a premium on patience over sustained violence of action. There will be a lot of precision aimed fire of all calibers, but I also see the possibility of a lot of hand grenade and hatchet work.

  84. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Nuclear KSA was always a canard.

  85. Fred says:

    Perhaps he’s afraid he can’t rig the election results the way he did with his false-flag coup.

  86. turcopolier says:

    I am Ancient School IMO if you become decisively engaged with a fanatical entrenched enemy in a city you will have fight it out house to house with concomitant casualties. Pecking around the edges will not work. Look at Mosul. The political result for Trump will be mixed. On the one hand there will be the dead. On the other hand there will be victory over the territorial caliphate. This will impress the foule, and screw the Democrats, and they are just Army guys, pl

  87. Chris Chuba says:

    Steve, the good thing about this time is that thanks to Volodya (Putin) we didn’t destroy the Syrian govt which currently controls 70% of the population. The Kurds control another 10%. So between the two of them they should be able to absorb the 10% or less that ISIS controls and even the remainder controlled by the Al Qaeda dominated rebels.
    The reason that we got stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq was because we installed new govts and were saddled with having to prop them up. Volodya will never get the thanks he deserves from us, only slander.

  88. Mishkilji says:

    “If war is to have any meaning at all, its purpose must be to establish control over peoples and territories, and ultimately, this can be done only as Alexander the Great did it, on the ground.”
    ― T.R. Fehrenbach

  89. Sam Peralta says:

    He’s arrested half the army and judiciary and police forces. He’s probably already printed all the marked ballots for the referendum. I’d be shocked if he didn’t get the referendum past the finish line.
    He’s getting pissy that he can’t run his campaign in Germany and Netherlands. That’s nuts! All he’s doing is making the Turks in those countries stand out like a sore thumb.

  90. Brad says:
    US problem of building up Sunni Iraq army while ignore
    Shia Militias. ..
    Iraqi oil sold on USD…US forces in Iraq like a Tick.
    Syria is get Kurds to allow US military presence,…and
    Become something to block Hezbollah, IRGC .
    With the Fake label of Syrian Democratic Forces in play,
    It’s probable US intend to stay in Syria and via NGOs,
    Color revolution the place in the future via elections
    And Federalization.
    US has been unable to stop the growth of Shia military in
    Iraq or Syria.
    Absolute angst for Israhell

  91. turcopolier says:

    You think you are clever? Do you think I do not know that? pl

  92. turcopolier says:

    Ok You hate the US and want to understand everything to say we are assholes. Anything else? pl

  93. turcopolier says:

    I like “Lone Star,” his book on Texas. pl

  94. alba etie says:

    Well because I would like to see These United States stay engaged in the world diplomatically – Also to paraphrase Sec Of Defense Mattis – ” If you cut the State Dept budget I will have to buy more bullets “..

  95. alba etie says:

    Col Lang
    What is the BS bomber @ USIA ?

  96. pl,
    If Trump impetuously demands a quick victory to sate his ego and vanquish his foes, both political and jihadist, he must call forward the rest of the Rangers and at least a brigade from the 82nd. The deliberate reduction of an urban area in the manner that we learned the craft requires the constant rotation of assault troops as they get chewed up and worn out. Of course, you know that even better than I do. I’m curious about what the Rangers learned in Afghanistan and practiced for the last six months. I also wonder if they learned something from the YPG in Manbij. The fight will be bloody enough if it resembles Manbij. It will be much worse if it’s more like Mosul.

  97. Pundita says:

    IS adopted the ‘walking through walls’ or ‘aboveground tunneling’ urban warfare tactic in Mosul so they’ll probably use it in Raqqa as well. From Reuters 2/28/17 rpt, “Mosul caught in ‘strange and terrifying’ battle as Islamic State foreign soldiers fight to the end”
    The families cowered in basements, huddling in the dark as war raged overhead between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants fighting for control of the streets of Mosul.
    Above ground, soldiers from Iraq’s Rapid Response division move from house to house through the same openings Islamic State militants smashed through the walls in preparation to defend their last remaining stronghold in the city’s west.
    The passageway led them through living rooms and gardens, into a kitchen with a pot of lentil soup on the counter — the scenes of domesticity highlighting the chaos of war that is intensifying as Iraqi forces advance.
    See the Reuters article for photo of a ‘wall tunnel.’
    Here’s a more detailed explanation of the tactic, taken from a paper titled “Lethal Territory” by Israeli architect Eyal Weizman:
    The maneuver conducted by units of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Nablus in April 2002 was described by its commander, Brigadier General Aviv Kokhavi, as inverse geometry, the reorganization of the urban syntax by means of a series of microtactical actions.
    During the battle, soldiers moved within the city across hundred-meter-long “overground-tunnels” carved through a dense and contiguous urban fabric. Although several thousand soldiers and several hundred Palestinian guerrilla fighters were maneuvering simultaneously in the city, they were so “saturated” within its fabric that very few would have been visible from an aerial perspective at any given moment.
    Furthermore, soldiers used none of the streets, roads, alleys, or courtyards that constitute the syntax of the city, and none of the external doors, internal stairwells, and windows that constitute the order of buildings, but rather moved horizontally through party walls, and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors.
    This form of movement, described by the military as “infestation”, sought to redefine inside as outside, and domestic interiors as thoroughfares.
    Rather than submit to the authority of conventional spatial boundaries and logic, movement became constitutive of space. The three-dimensional progression through walls, ceilings, and floors across the urban balk reinterpreted, short-circuited, and recomposed both architectural and urban syntax.
    The IDF’s strategy of “walking through walls” involved a conception of the city as not just the site, but the very medium of warfare — a flexible, almost liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux.
    IS strategists seem to have done a lot of thinking and study of urban warfare tactics.
    Also of interest in the Reuters report is the conclusion/theory from Iraqi military commanders that IS fighters in Mosul will fight to the death because most left seem to be foreigners, and so they can’t melt into the larger populace the way local fighters can.
    If this theory holds true, I am wondering if many of the foreign fighters in Mosul were transferred from Raqqa; if so, it might mean the resistance could be lighter in Raqqa than Mosul. Of course that’s a number of ‘ifs.’

  98. Pundita says:

    Agence France Presse, March 11 – 5 PM – Daily Star (Lebanon)
    BEIRUT: Three hundred families of ISIS fighters have fled the extremists’ self-proclaimed Syrian capital of Raqqa in 24 hours, as rival forces encircle the city, activists said Saturday.
    The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “300 families of foreign fighters of ISIS have left the city of Raqqa since dawn Friday to take refuge in the province of Deir al-Zor to the east and Hama to the west.”
    The northern city of Raqqa is the target of advancing Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces as well as Syrian government troops supported by Russia.
    The Britain-based Observatory’s head, Rami Abdel-Rahman, said that ISIS families were using the only remaining escape route, on boats across the Euphrates River to the south.

  99. turcopolier says:

    Alba Etie
    USIA is the federal governments propaganda arm. What don’t you understand? pl

  100. turcopolier says:

    Alba Etie
    Once again, to equate American diplomacy with the administrative budget of the State Department is a great fallacy. Leaving aside the USAID and USIA portions of what loosely can be grouped together as the State Department budget the truth is that the internal bureaucracy at Foggy Bottom does not contribute much to American security. It is a large pettifogging mass of people who spend their time writing papers for each other. In the last several decades actual diplomacy has been practiced by the Secretary flying about the world in person talking to people. In this the Secretary is assisted by a fairly small group of assistants. There are some things that are irreducible in their necessity. Consular and passport services would be among them but a lot of the rest of what the State Bureaucracy does is busywork. pl

  101. turcopolier says:

    Pundita TTG et al
    I am dismayed to learn that IS in Mosul has fought the way that Antique School planners would pretty much always advocate. “Tunneling above ground” is a good way to describe both the offense and defense in situations like this. You could actually see that IS was doing this in the CNN near disaster when Arwa Damon and crew nearly bought the farm inside Mosul. IS came out of buildings on all sides of them. They got there by “above ground tunneling.” The offensive as a form of combat is the more decisive mode, but the defensive is actually the stronger tactically. In soldier terms this means that the side that is up and moving instead of down and shooting when contact is made is going to lose a lot of people. Trump and Mattis should think this over carefully before they commit to a ground battle in Raqqa an Arab city of 300,000 inhabitants. pl

  102. The Beaver says:

    Spinmasters at US Information Agency

  103. Fred says:

    Tillerson is probably going to be far more effective diplomatically than the various political appointees at State have been the last few years. If the guys at FP are this upset then the administration is doing something right:
    “The news stories are based on leaks, of course, but the very fact that many people in the State Department are willing to express their dismay is a troubling sign. More importantly, these press stories tell everyone in Washington, including foreign embassies, that Tillerson is ineffective. Even if these descriptions are incorrect, by influencing widespread perceptions they undermine him. The fact that Tillerson has not been meeting with reporters, and even temporarily halted the daily departmental press briefings, has contributed to the sense of his being peripheral.”
    Troubling to the Borg is that their influence with Trump and his SOS isn’t what it once was. What they object too is Trump’s policy, not Trump’s appointee. This verifies not only that view but also the betrayal of duty and obstruction by employees of the Federal government (at least at State) to the policies of the President. They should be fired asap.

  104. mike says:

    Raqqa will not happen until at least after 16 April date set for the Turkish Constitutional Referendum.
    In the meantime, airfields in the Kurdish Cantons of Syria are being improved and lengthened. And probably also in Jordan? Just in case Erdogan kicks us out of Incirlik once an SDF campaign starts against Raqqa.
    With the latest Flynn drama, I do not believe there is any chance that the Pentagon will accept Turkish help in Raqqa. Same same for Joint US/Russian ops in Raqqa, although coordination will increase.
    After Raqqa and after Idlib, what then? The long pole in the tent for Assad is going to be the Turkish enclave around al-Bab and the area in the southeast down close to the Golan Heights.

  105. mike says:

    Fehrenbach’s ‘The Battle of Anzio’ is also worth reading.
    Although I regret he never wrote a book on the 36th ‘Lone Star’ Division at the Rapido River.

  106. elaine says:

    Colonel, I’m curious; why do you think the 82nd air borne div was chosen to
    deploy over the 101st Screaming Eagles?

  107. turcopolier says:

    The 101st has not actually been an airborne division for many years. It is a helicopter mobile force with a vey large logistical tail. pl

  108. raven says:

    “But I wonder how well Trump’s psyche will hold up when paratroopers from the 82nd start arriving at Dover AFB in significant numbers. ”
    He didn’t care in 1968, why would he care now?

  109. elaine,
    The 101st Airmobile, the 82nd Airborne and the 10th Mountain Div are all organized pretty much the same. The prime difference is that the 82nd can be parachuted in. The other two divisions are full of dirty legs. Once on the ground, all three are more or less the same. The 82nd was probably chosen for this mission because it was that division’s turn in the barrel.

  110. Fred says:

    ISIS wasn’t around then either. Maybe their adherents here can look forward to a pardon like Carter gave the draft dodgers the next time a Democrat gets elected president.

  111. turcopolier says:

    I wish they would tell me before they do things like making these three divisions the same. pl

  112. pl,
    The differences seem to be slight. Each brigade has 3 infantry battalions, a cav squadron, an engineer, artillery and a support battalion. I don’t know if the cav squadrons are air or armored. The 3/4 Cav with the 25th Div in the 70s had 2 air cav troops and 1 ground cav troop. So our entire division had 3 M-551 Sheridan tanks period. At the time, the 82d had a battalion of Sheridans. Those were odd things.

  113. Pundita says:

    Yes, although the military term “infestation” is also apt — as in a termite infestation. The house looks sound from the outside but inside it’s chewed into labyrinthes. Then the fighters can pop out anywhere, like ghosts in a horror story.
    I once read that IS built at least some of the underground tunnels in Raqqa on existing smuggling tunnels; that may be one reason they chose the Raqqa region.
    At any rate the US needs to hire Bedouin smugglers and even children in the region who worked or still work in the oil smuggling trade. Pay them to locate the IS tunnel entrances and swear their secret will be safe afterwards. They probably already know where most if not all those tunnel entrances are.
    Don’t offer them the moon for the job; find someone who really knows the ways of the bazaar to bargain hard on the price per tunnel entrance location. If the Americans show up with suitcases stuffed with millions of dollars in payment the Bedouins won’t believe they’re sincere.
    Also get help from Israeli and Egyptian military engineers who’ve specialized in finding smuggling tunnels from Gaza to Egypt.
    But at all costs find the underground tunnel entrances in Raqqa. And take up indoor tunneling. If IS is fighting like ghosts, give them a ghost war.

  114. raven says:

    Curses, banned again.

  115. turcopolier says:

    Why do you think you are banned? You are not. pl

  116. trinlae says:

    Here’s some graphic and telling footage from Palmyra c.o Russian Tv
    The report says Isis is now pushed out 10 km and only comes out at night….but didnt stop murdering pilgrimage devotees

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