Wrath of Euphrates, Phase III – TTG


"ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The US-led international coalition against ISIS provided its allies in Syria with armored vehicles, a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said and a US colonel confirmed. “The armored vehicles and troop carriers had arrived four or five days ago,” Talal Silo told Reuters on Tuesday. “Previously we didn't get support in this form, we would get light weapons and ammunition. There are signs of full support from the new American leadership, more than before, for our forces,” he added. 

Silo said the vehicles would be used to support the SDF’s ongoing offensive on ISIS-held Raqqa, which the extremist group claimed as its capital. The SDF is a coalition of forces including the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian Arab Coalition, and Turkmen and Assyrian elements. During its campaign for Raqqa, the SDF has also added many local fighters to its ranks. 

The US-led coalition has been backing the SDF as a key ally on the ground fighting ISIS in northern Syria, providing advice, air support, and some arms. American officials, however, have been very clear that the arms they supply are to the Syrian Arab Coalition and not Kurdish forces, who are dominant members of the SDF. The US is balancing its support of the YPG and SDF with its alliance with fellow NATO member Turkey who considers the YPG to be a terrorist group with ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). 

Coalition spokesperson, Col. John Dorrian, confirmed that they have provided vehicles to the Syrian Arab Coalition. "We have provided armored Sport Utility Vehicles to the Syrian Arab Coalition using existing authorities, in the interest of helping protect our partnered force from the [ISIS] improvised-explosive device threat," Dorrian told AFP news agency on Tuesday. "The decision was made by military commanders, and has been in the works for some time.”

The process of delivering the supplies began under the administration of former US President Barack Obama. A US general commented to USA Today in mid-January that the US air force had been increasing airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to opposition forces who are closing in on Raqqa.

Antony J. Blinken, the former deputy secretary of state in Obama’s administration, wrote an opinion article in the New York Times on Tuesday in which he hinted that current US President Donald Trump would shift US policy towards further arming Kurds in Syria. “In the last days of the Obama administration, the Pentagon said it would immediately seek permission from President Trump to do just that,” Blinken wrote. “It rightly wants to take advantage of the SDF’s momentum in isolating Raqqa.”" (RUDAW)


There are several accounts, photos and videos of the delivery of 200 Guardian light armored personnel carriers to the YPG/SDF. These vehicles seem to be well suited to style of YPG/SDF fighters. My guess is that a lot of their current light trucks are reaching the end of their life cycle and need replacing. This is a suitable upgrade. I bet the embedded Special Forces advisors had a hand in picking these vehicles rather than anything heavier and more complicated. 


These will be used in Phase III of Operation Wrath of Euphrates in what has become a classic YPG operation, a double envelopment of Raqqa. The Kurds and their allies are sitting at the north end of the dam at Tabqah. The plan is to take the dam along with Tabqah and then swing east along the southern bank of the Euphrates. A second attack will cross the river between Raqqa and Deir az-Zor and swing to the west. The two prongs of the attack will meet south of Raqqa and isolate the city from the rest of IS held territory. It’s an ambitious plan, but I’m confident the YPG/SDF forces can do this with the more robust support from the U.S. that is surely forthcoming.


In his inauguration address, Trump said he would wipe Islamic State “from the face of the earth.” He won’t do it alone, but I think this Administration, the confoundingly competent fighters of the YPG/SDF and the embedded Green Berets will play a significant part in their final destruction.


* This photo was captioned SDF and US Special Forces crossing the Euphrates River. I never get tired of saying it. "The shit's on, good buddy." 

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96 Responses to Wrath of Euphrates, Phase III – TTG

  1. mike says:

    TTG –
    200 of those Guardians is a big shipment. Some sources are claiming they flew them in from al Dhafra airfield in the UAE, probably to airfields in Kobani or Tel Abyad or Rimelan, or maybe all of the above? I don’t know f that is true. But it seems highly unlikely that they came via Incirlik. In any case that is a lot of C-17 flights.
    Any reaction from Erdogan yet?

  2. I think there’s some mention in the Turkish press. I haven’t run any of it through Google Translate yet. My guess is that the shipments started shortly after Obama authorized increased support to the SDF. It was a resupply by infiltration.

  3. ann says:

    Thanks for the explanation.

  4. notlurking says:

    I fear down the line some of those same vehicles will be used against the SAA….

  5. Old Microbiologist says:

    As far as I see , it doesn’t conflict with the SAA or Russian goals either. Only Turkey might disagree and I believe they are now compliant to Russia to a degree or at least as much as Erdogan can be trusted. It is up to Trump to somehow badger Israel and KSA to accept the inevitable and stop their nefarious dealings. That 7 country list could grow if they don’t.

  6. Vic says:

    No real change to the situation.
    The Kurds are our only real ally in the region. Yet we treat them like red haired step children because we don’t want to upset Turkey (who has NOT been a loyal ally most of the time).
    The Kurds are capable of much greater accomplishments. They are great fighters especially in comparison to the worthless FSA. The Kurds main weakness is manpower. They are a small ethnic minority.
    We could make the Kurds “punch way above their weight”. The US Army had the same problem during the cold war. We had to fight outnumbered and win in Europe. One of the ways we did it was to field a family of weapon systems that gave us a qualitative advantage over the Soviets. We found in Desert Storm that those weapons were unbelievably lethal (tactical nuclear results with conventional weapons).
    We need to ignore the Turks and equip the Kurds with weapons that will give them a decisive edge in ground combat in Syria. The Kurds are the only leverage we have left in Syria after the failed policies of Obama. Turn them lose to seal the entire northern Syrian border.

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And then what?
    Maintain a mercenary army in the middle of Middle East indefinitely; with its weapons ready to be pointed at this or that legitimate government depending on who has won elections in US?
    You cannot be serious.
    If you care about Kurds, I would think ending these wars is the best way to help them.

  8. Vic,
    Babak made an important and valid point. The last thing that region needs is another powerful military force seeking to extend the reach of one group over another. That’s just a surefire recipe for extending the misery and suffering for all who live in the region. And the last thing we should be doing is using the Kurds as our leverage. I always had an uneasy feeling that Obama would seek using the Kurdish area as a new home for resistance to Assad as his mythical moderate jihadi unicorns began fading into oblivion. My sincere wish is that the Trump Administration will reject the idea of seeking leverage in the region.
    I do feel a certain affinity to the Rojava Kurds and hope they can eventually arrive at some kind of accommodation with Damascus where they can enjoy some degree of autonomy and live their lives as they see fit in peace. A push for an independent Rojava is a push for destruction at the hands of Damascus and/or Ankara. Babak is absolutely right on this point.

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This is a well-intention-ed and far-sighted vision but not, regrettably, in the realm of possibility.
    Consider the existing RCD/ECO (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_Cooperation_for_Development); in one form or another it has existed for more than 50 years but with little tangible results.
    There were two impediments to it; these countries have not been producing products and services that were of value to others (although that has recently begun to change) and the political will for its development has been lacking. (Look at Pakistan, her leaders prefer the people of Pakistan to bake in 55 degree Celsius heat rather than import gas from Iran, lest Gulfies, EU, or US take offense.)
    Furthermore, per a corollary of the Makkinejad Thesis, Arabs will not get their act together in any way shape or form for the foreseeable future; this type of cooperation envisioned by this author is a non-starter.
    Then there is the issue of absence of trust:
    A few years back, Iran offered to finance the construction of a dam in Northern Lebanon, in the Christian area, for electricity generation. It was resisted by the Christian Lebanese inhabitants of that area since they were afraid that Shia Lebanese construction workers would go there to build the damn and thus be invading the Christian areas.
    Another example would be the uninhabited wilderness in Southern Armenia; ideal for grazing sheep. Iranians consume a lot of lamb, the Armenian government could rent that area to Iranians, who could send their shepherds there to raise sheep. Because of wolves, the shepherds have to be armed with rifles. Well, the idea of armed Muslims (likely Iranian Azeri Turks) on the Armenian territory is a non-starter, regarding how beneficial that might be to Armenia and to Iran.
    The Karun river empties into Persian Gulf and it is within an acceptable distance for pumping its water to Kuwait at a certain rate. However, anger against Kuwait (and Arabs in general) for having supported Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran is so deep that no Iranian government will be able to conclude such a mutually beneficial deal with Kuwait.
    There is a UNESCO-sponsored accelerator in Jordan, itself donated by EU, for the purposes of advancing & fostering scientific research in the Near East. Iran is a member and on several occasions Iranian scientists were arbitrarily denied visas to Jordan. Two Iranian scientists who had gone to Jordan for working in that facility, were later assassinated in Iran.
    And so on and so forth.

  10. ISL says:

    I am sure the SF guys would like to treat the Kurds right, but there is a long history of the US (and everyone else in the region) backstabbing them when convenient. I wonder if the Kurdish leadership understands that it probably is not long before once again they will be on their own with no friends and all their neighbors as enemies.
    My advice is try for a Russia re-alignment, who might be able to balance between SAA and Russian interests

  11. mike says:

    TTG & Babak Makkinejad –
    Nothing in Vic’s comment advocated an independent Rojava. And the Syrian Kurds themselves do not want independence.
    I do agree with your assertions that we should not maintain a mercenary army in Syria forever. But they are good allies in the fight against Daesh and we should help them defend themselves if they are attacked.
    BTW, even Assad’s allies, the Russians, agree that the Syrian Kurds should get some degree of autonomy.

  12. YT says:

    I see.
    The author is just ‘nother dreamer with his head up in theoretical clouds (I was kinda startled ’bout him mentioning ’bout getting rid of nat’l borders).
    I assume this is what most ivory tower think-tanks send forth.
    I can’t tell his ethnicity tho.

  13. mike says:

    ISL –
    Syrian Kurds have been working with Russia for a long time for such a re-alignment. The latest talks between Russian FM Lavrov and PYD representatives took place in Moscow just a few days ago.

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    He is an Arab, likely Lebanese – this type of thinking would not come out of anywhere else in the Arab World.
    The thing of it is that the Gulfies can today invite Iran and Iraq to join the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council and with one letter of invitation revolutionize their relationship with Iran and the Shia World.
    But they will never do it and that the Fortress West has their back – or so it appears – is only making them less willing to undertake any such ventures.

  15. AEL says:

    Are the Kurds up to the urban warfare needed to take Raqqa?
    What about their Arab allies?
    Who will volunteer to take all those casualties?
    Didn’t Iraq have a similar problem with Mosul?
    Alternatively, will they simply starve Raqqa (and everyone in it?).

  16. AEL,
    They took Manbij without a massive amount of air or artillery support. Raqqa would be a whole different nut to crack. I’d be surprised if they simply try to muscle their way into that one.

  17. mike says:

    Ael –
    The current plan as proposed by the CJTF coalition is for the Kurdish YPG to be the isolation force and stay out of Raqqa itself. The SDF composed of mainly Arab but some Syriac/Armenian/Circassian is to be the force to actually go in and take Raqqa. Many people have doubts that will work. So far the SDF is untested without YPG support. But they will have embedded US/UK/French coalition forces with them to pinpoint air and artillery strikes.

  18. plantman says:

    This action will just push Erdogan further into Putin’s camp which can’t be very good for the “pivot to asia” supporters.
    It’s hard for me to believe that the globalists are going to take this sitting down.
    Does anyone else see this as a problem for Trump??

  19. Thomas says:

    “Does anyone else see this as a problem for Trump?”
    No, I see it as a grave problem for the Islamic Stater”s Neo-Umayyad Restoration program.
    The process is underway for cooperation by key players to encircle, create cauldrons, and clear them until the Islamic State becomes nothing but several chapters in the history books.

  20. LeaNder says:

    sounds like business as usual. 😉
    But interesting to see Saatchi surface.

  21. turcopolier says:

    And what of the AQ connected groups? pl

  22. Clonal Antibody says:

    Does anybody have some thoughts on this – Trump and Saudi King Agree to More Military Intervention, Collaboration, Aggression Against Iran

    The official Saudi Press Agency said Trump and Saudi King Salman agreed on everything they discussed. It reported that the leaders stressed the “depth and strength of the strategic relations between the two countries.”
    Reuters reported, citing a senior Saudi source, that the two leaders “agreed to step up counter-terrorism and military cooperation and enhance economic cooperation.”
    The two planned greater military intervention in the Middle East, and the creation of so-called safe zones in Syria and Yemen. The details of how such zones would be created are not clear, but if they were instituted, it would likely take direct U.S. military involvement.
    Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally since the 1930s, is a theocratic absolute monarchy that brutally represses all internal dissent, beheads nonviolent protesters and funds and spreads extremist Islamism throughout the globe. A leaked 2014 email from Hillary Clinton revealed, citing Western intelligence sources, that the U.S.-backed regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar supported the genocidal militant group ISIS.

    Given the deep involvement of Saudi’s and Qataris in keeping ISIS going, I wounder where the disconnect is coming from.

  23. Thomas says:

    Those in Syria will share the same fate, now that their supporters in the civilian side of our government are gone. Of course this my view changing from cautiously optimistic to optimistic.

  24. turcopolier says:

    Wildly optimistic. pl

  25. LG says:

    OT, but Mike Flynn has put Iran on notice. And the attack on the ship in Yemen looks like a pretext for more war.
    Any thoughts on this?

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Gulfies are the Good-For-the-West Muslims.
    Shias are the Bad-For-the-West and Bad-For-Israel Muslims.
    There is no disconnect here.
    Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia were, as I recall, on Bush II hit list.
    Nothing seems to have changed.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Does the United States wish to terminate the cease fire deal between the Fortress West and Iran?
    I do not think so.
    Nor will the Iranian do anything to destroy that cease fire deal.
    Trump is the anti-war President and he cannot accomplish his domestic agenda while starting a new confrontation in the Middle East – likely interminable during his presidency – be it 4 or 8 years.
    Since, through JCOPA, the United States has accepted all the Iranian Nuclear activities within NPT, then, in my opinion, the major impediment for negotiations with Iran has been removed.
    Trump, if he be willing, could, under the guise of re-negotiation of JCOPA with Iran, initiate strategic negotiations with Iran. Once Iran and US have established the contours of their deal, others could be invited in for further details and consultations.
    Since Trump has expressed an interest in the resolution of the war in Palestine, he ought to be prepared to put that on the table with Iranians as well – even though Iranians should not expect anything for free.
    It is really his opportunity.

  28. LG,
    Looks like Trump will continue the policies of allying with the Saudis, the fountainhead of Wahabbi jihadism, and animosity towards Iran, a frontline state in the fight against those jihadists. It makes no more sense now than it did under Bush and Obama. How this will square with the developing relationship with Russia, on the part of both the US and Iran, is anybody’s guess.

  29. kooshy says:

    TTG, I hope the governments and political planers of US, France and U.K. Will hold your views on Kurds, but IMO unfortunately Kurds have been used and will be used for western power’ great game geopolitics plays.

  30. The Beaver says:

    @ Babak
    Since Trump has expressed an interest in the resolution of the war in Palestine, he ought to be prepared to put that on the table with Iranians as well
    He is betting that the new rapprochement between the Saudis and Israel will bring the Arab league closer to Israel- thus peace to the ME ! .Hence the inclusion of Bannon in the NSC since Bannon is teaming with Jared Kushner as per this:
    Then it is war with Iran (the ME against Iran) and then China (Bannon’s wish)
    Both KSA and UAE are defending Trump’s decision to ban people from 7 Muslim majority countries from entering the US _ makes one wonder since 17 terrorists came from those countries

  31. kooshy says:

    BTW, even Assad’s allies, the Russians, agree that the Syrian Kurds should get “some” degree of autonomy.
    Mike, that’s a lot better than before, but this hole thing as far as I can remember circles around that SOME you mention.
    What and how much is that some,does having an independent army, foreign policy and financial system included in that some?
    Inviting foreign military advisers against wishes of republic/ centeral goverment ? IMO enteral goverment of known requgnized 4 Kurdish inhabitant states will agree
    To use of language, religion, local elections and representation, and spending the income and earrings in Kurdish regions, even accepting for life warlords, but not an independent
    FP, or inviting and basing forign forceses.

  32. kooshy,
    The Kurds have been a pawn in our great game geopolitics as long as I can remember. I first met a Barzani in 1988 and to try to convince him to assist us against Iran while he was telling me what a threat Saddam was. The great game of geopolitics is more often than not a series of tragic absurdities.

  33. turcopolier says:

    Both Flynn and Derek Harvey are belligerent ignorami. They have no idea of much of anything concerning the ME that is not the product of ignorami group think. Harvey used to hang around my Pentagon offices when he was a captain hoping for a pat on the head in passing. God help us since Trump does not understand the ME either. pl

  34. Sam Peralta says:

    Col. Lang
    Since both Flynn and Derek Harvey are belligerent ignorami concering the ME and if we give some credence to the speculation that Bannon was inducted into the NSC to provide a check on Flynn, and since as some SST correspondents believe that he is the new svengali, do you think it will serve Bannon’s agenda and purpose for Trump to add to the interventions in the ME in the service of the Likudniks and the Saudis?

  35. mike says:

    Below is a link to this morning’s briefing by the coalition spokesman, Col Dorrian. It is just shy of 48 minutes long, but most of that is Q&A by the press. But IMHO most of the reporters only seem to want to get him to speculate on issues outside of his cognizance, or to trip him up.
    Key points:
    – He clarifies that the Guardian vehicles were given to just one group within the SDF, he calls them the Syrian Arab Coalition, locals from in and around Raqqa.
    – He does not confirm the number of Guardians provided, only that it is a small number.
    – He mentions that the Guardians are basically up-armored Ford trucks that only provide some protection against IEDs and small arms.
    – He mentions the APKWS2 as a precision stike capability that has been used to avoid collateral damage in urban areas, and that will be used in Raqqa.
    Might be better to watch it on YouTube if you can find it there. The DVIDS site is slow and cranky; there were many stops and starts while I was watching.

  36. kooshy says:

    Yes Sir,and we all know what happened to Iraqi Kurds after US/Iraq first war. Some of them still are living in
    Iran’ west Azerbaijan city of Naqadeh. To prosper First thing Kurds need to do, is to get rid of Barzani and Talabani Clans , second thing is to forget about crony french socialism and stalin communism mentality injected into Kurd mentality.

  37. mike says:

    Kooshy –
    Reportedly the Russians have only offered the Syrian Kurds a ‘cultural autonomy’. In other words, they can speak their own language and practice their own religion and dress in their own style. The regime has said no autonomy – period.
    The Kurds politely told Lavrov that the issue needed much more discussion. They do want the local elections, representation, and local spending that you mention. They are not asking for an independent foreign policy, although they surely want some input into that policy by the regime. They are not asking for the basing of foreign forces and warlords.
    Perhaps you are conflating the Syrian Kurds with the Iraqi Kurds?

  38. VietnamVet says:

    I agree with Babak’s comment that Donald J. Trump was elected as the peace candidate. WaPo rumors indicate that only GOP’s 3rd or 4th rated Stringers are coming aboard. That makes sense. Steve Bannon decided to go to war against corporate globalists. Those willing to join the Trump Administration must have an ideological reason such as revenge for imagined slights, privatizing education or gutting environmental regulations to risk having the corporate revolving door slammed in their face. If Israel Firsters want a war with Iran that means taking on Russia and China too. Much else is muddled. Do the Nationalists really want a war with Iran? If the Great Game is back on, the USA must be Best Friends Forever with the Gulf Monarchies. If the Balkan and Middle East Wars escalate, the American Empire will collapse (Turkey is gone) and WWIII could ignite.

  39. ann says:

    And then the Iranians test fire a missile I don’t know missiles and if it was “legal” under the agreement, but it was a statement of some sort.
    Now do the Russian’s stay friendly with Iran, or dump them in favor of Turkey and to appease Trump.

  40. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Question 1: So what happens if IS is driven out of the cities it currently occupies?
    Question 2: Is it even possible to
    “wipe the Islamic State from the face of the earth”?
    I think the answer to Q2 is “No”.
    The IS will become a state of mind, in the minds of uncountably many “Holy Warriors”,
    aka “dragon’s teeth”.
    This is a fight the U.S. should avoid.
    (Please excuse a brief historical summery now, which the experts of course know.)
    Since Islam was founded in 610, there have been many periods of active war between Islamic forces and those of the West,
    the last that I know prior to the establishment of Israel being in 1918, at the end of The Great War.
    See, for some examples https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_wars_in_Europe
    which includes the fall of Constantinople.
    Why on earth any sane Westerner would want to do anything to rekindle those West/Islam conflicts seems truly an act of insanity.
    Seems as insane as trying to restart the Wars of Religion between Catholicism and Protestantism.
    For some specific predictions on what the fall of those cities would lead to,
    from someone who unquestionably knows a lot about the state of mind of mujahedin,
    namely Michael Scheuer, see his 2016-11-19 post
    I really hope some of the experts who read SST will take the time to read that post, and provide their thoughts on Scheuer’s predictions.
    You certainly can’t deny the accuracy of many (not all, but many) of his predictions in two of his books,
    Imperial Hubris and Marching Toward Hell.
    Here is a sample from that post:

    [T]he loss of the cities that IS held or holds in Syria and Iraq is a blow to the organization’s prestige, and is costly in financial and manpower terms. It does not destroy the eternal goal of recreating the caliphate, or the IS organization. Indeed, in the counter-intuitive ways of insurgent warfare – where losses are often wins — those defeats will make IS stronger, more elusive, and more appealing to young Muslims.

    An Islamist insurgency being waged from Damascus eastward to the Iranian border, however, will be only one part of the catastrophe which will be delivered by the coalition’s successful campaign to drive IS from the cities. As noted, IS will return to its strongest military skill, and it also will return to kind of warfare that requires less manpower. IS leaders, therefore, will be free to redeploy their fighters to areas of its choosing, and, as the history of the last 20 years has shown, the arrival of even a few veteran mujahedin can make a notable difference to the quality and lethality of local jihadi operations.

    In other words, be VERY careful about what you wish for!

  41. Origin says:

    Trump has repeatedly said he “loves war” and “we are preparing for war”, so it’s probably war.
    Is not running a nuclear war the greatest ego trip possible?
    My thought is we should simply take Trump at his word and expect him to follow through. Trump has stated how impressed he is with nuclear war. The question is whether he will start on a small fry like Iran or challenge a big boy like China in the Spratlins. His impulse control is minimal. Why should we expect him to delay.
    C’est la vie. C’est la guerre.

  42. kooshy says:

    Mike, I am talking about what would be a maximum possibility that all kurds from all 4 different countries, can respectively get from the central government’s of each country (Iran,Turky,Iraq,Syria),. For example in Iran, Kurds will starve if Money from central government is not injected in Kurdistan Province. Iraqi Kurdistan is a Mafia Style clan families, is not, a government, is a family business without any care for any Kurd, except Barzani and Talabani family. That shouldn’t be allowed in Syria, my estimation is that the Kurds in Turkey will not get any better than what they have, understanding the deep down feeling of Turks general public toward the Kurds.

  43. kooshy says:

    IMO, the western government’ war with or on terror is fony to the bone, and meaningless. IMO for these western governments the terror attacks of likes Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando, etc. that took life of many innocent citizens, was just an inconvenience, or as they call it, collateral damage. Soon we will learn how serious and truthful Trump administration’ war on terror is, so far on the first few initiatives, IMO they don’t mean terror and they don’t mean muslim, they are after usual geopolitics at any price even terror at home.

  44. Fred says:

    “Why should we expect him to delay.”
    Because he’s not Hilary – he knows America wouldn’t survive a nuclear war.

  45. Origin says:

    What is this meant to mean?
    “Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump
    Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago”

  46. Fred says:

    Ask Chalabi’s daughter. She just had an oped in the Guardian. Nice connections too.

  47. Origin says:

    He knows Iran has no nuke with which to retaliate, so in his mind, why not just use a small “tactical” nuke to “impress” those mullahs. After all, Iran, like the snotty fifth grader, is on “notice” and needs to mind the Trumpster. Remember he has said if you have them, why shouldn’t you use them?
    The experience of the last few days might lead us to expect he is likely to do what he says he will.

  48. Keith Harbaugh,
    You’re right about not wiping IS off the face of the earth. The remnants of the current “caliphate” will pop up somewhere else, especially with their Saudi sugar daddies protected by the U.S. Until we come to our senses about the Saudis, we should still kill as many of the jihadi bastards as we can for as fast as we can. Even if we reduce the current Wahabbi jihadist to a handful of angry broken men in a mosque, a new effort to purify Islam and the world will spring up years or decades into the future.

  49. Sam Peralta says:

    No logic required when you can wet your bed with NeverTrump scary thoughts!
    I’m worried these guys may get a stroke. If Trump’s first week is driving them so loopy what will happen when Trump and his svengali Bannon figure out their way to the pool room in the WH.

  50. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Here’s the link to Mona Chalabi’s Op Ed.
    I used to read her columns frequently when she was at FiveThirtyEight and wondered whether she might be related.

  51. ex-PFC Chuck,
    I’ve noticed that, too. This time the Novorossiya Armed Forces are shooting back pretty forcefully and there are serious casualties. This happened a few times since Poroshenko had his ass handed to him at Debaltseve in February 2015. If this develops into something more protracted, I’ll post something on the situation.

  52. Origin says:

    What? Send in the troops to install Chalabi? Or chase the Shia militias to Iran? Does he have dreams of “reclaiming” the Iraq Obama “lost”? Or is he just delusional?

  53. VietnamVet says:

    If Russia, Europe, Iran, China and the USA unite together, the radicalized Islamists can be defeated in the cities in Syria and Iraq. The Caliphate will cease to exist. Colonel Lang’s Idlib Province campaign will come to a successful conclusion. Collateral damage will diminish. If not, and the resupply continues, the fighting will never end. The resistance to foreign invaders never dies as long as there are a People still alive to fight. Likewise, the Deplorables will never acquiesce to domination by foreign globalists. The only way there ever will be peace is if prosperity returns and the borders are secured. Is this possible? The Elite would have to give up their transnational institutions, power and endless wars. The Democrats continue to ignore the plight of the Middle Class, blame their election loss on the Russians and espouse globalism and war. The White House and Corporate Media are at war. Does Steve Bannon’s nationalism support equality under the law for all and the use of wealth to benefit society that is required to heal the economy? We shall see what happens if we live long enough.

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The best way to help Kurds is to bring these wars in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey to an end as quickly as possible.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The “Islamic Insurgency” was moving Eastward – it was stopped at Iraqi Kurdistan by Iranian troops.
    I heard that there are Iranian troops on the Qandil mountains as well now.
    This Islamic Insurgency has much better chance of traction outside of the Seljuk boundary – in Central Asia, in Africa, in Pakistan & India, and in the rest of the Arab world; in my opinion.

  56. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Russia needs Iran and will oscillate between the two poles of un-Enemy of Iran and an un-Friend of Iran.
    As for Russia trying to appease Trump: not in the cards. What does Trump have to offer; will he dissolve NATO, or instruct NATO forces to withdraw to within a 1000 kilometers of Moscow?
    I think not.
    Western Fortress and the Russian Federation are locked in a power struggle over Ukraine etc. Even if Western sanctions are removed against the Russian Federation, the defensive posture of that country will not change anytime soon unless and until NATO is gone.
    Ukraine was another casualty – before that there was Yugoslavia.
    Trust that the Russians will continue to nibble at Ukraine and regain control of Kiev – the birthplace of their state – by hook or by crook.
    I personally lament the demise of the Peace of Yalta, until something like that is re-established, there would be many more such events.

  57. Fred says:

    My my Origin have you completely forgotten what Ahmed Chalabi did? If you’re going full troll you’ll need to do better than that.

  58. Fred says:

    Will that be by Putin’s order or just because he’s Hitler?

  59. robt willmann says:

    Further south, in what has become the Yemen theatre of war, a story from Reuters concerns the commando raid on an “Al Qaeda” place there during the weekend in which one Navy Seal soldier was killed. Although the headline presents the issue of whether civilians were killed, a few paragraphs down show that some leaking is going on, as a question is raised about whether sufficient planning and preparation were done before the attack took place–
    “U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.
    As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.
    … [skip some]
    The U.S. officials said the extremists’ base had been identified as a target before the Obama administration left office on Jan. 20, but then-President Barack Obama held off approving a raid ahead of his departure.
    A White House official said the operation was thoroughly vetted by the previous administration and that the previous defense secretary [that would be Ash Carter] had signed off on it in January. The raid was delayed for operational reasons, the White House official said.
    The military officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said ‘a brutal firefight’ killed Owens and at least 15 Yemeni women and children. One of the dead was the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant killed by a 2011 U.S. drone strike.
    Some of the women were firing at the U.S. force, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters.”
    The White House said that the raid was delayed for “operational reasons”, according to the article. That broad phrase can include just about anything.
    Regardless, real combat is not like the entertainment in the movies or on television, nor is it like the deceptively named “reality TV shows”, nor is it the equivalent of rhetoric. Instead, it is reality itself.

  60. turcopolier says:

    Robert Willman
    It should not be expected that POTUS/CinC should personally approve minor operations such as this. There is no reason to think that the chain of command running south from SECDEF should not handle such decisions based on broad guidance from the Commander in Chief. pl

  61. robt willmann,
    What struck me about this report was this sentence.
    “U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.”
    Those military officials seem to be laying the blame on Trump. Unless the generals told Trump of these misgivings, strenuously recommended against going forward and were ordered to go forward anyways, they were wrong in trying to lay this one on Trump. Perhaps that’s exactly what the military officials were trying to say in a samizdat kind of way, but that would be a serious accusation.
    I would think AQ is getting very good at countering many of our reconnaissance capabilities and at detecting them when we use them. These kinds of raids are getting tougher to pull off. I also wonder about those SOC Ospreys. Have they been silenced to the extent that other SOC aircraft have been silenced? The ones I’ve been around (little birds and the like) are as quiet as owls. I hear regular Ospreys flying overhead every other day now. I have never heard a noisier aircraft.

  62. pl,
    I’m amazed at how high up the Chain of Command the decisions for these operations go. I’d be very surprised if the final decision for this raid did not come from POTUS/CinC. JSOC gets off on that kind of thing. The same kind of raid during the height of our war in Iraq and Iran would be routinely controlled in theater, but the situation in this case is more unique.

  63. Origin says:

    Was this Trump’s first Situation Room event?

  64. Origin says:

    I know Chalabi never ruled and was a complete charatan.

  65. Origin,
    We don’t know. I think the decision would have reached that level, but Colonel Lang reasonably thinks the decision for this operation would have occurred at a lower level.

  66. Fred says:

    The foreign policy establishment did not believe he was a charlatan.

  67. ann says:

    Saudi Arabia buys a huge amount of weapons from the U.S. I find myself sounding like a broken record, sorry, but what if part of this is just about keeping the war machine in the U.S. fully employed?

  68. ann says:

    I have read that Obama did the same thing. Pick and choose targets. Not unlike Bush and his “deck of cards”. Bad idea for people with No military experience, yes, but this does feed an ego.

  69. turcopolier says:

    LBJ did it also. You don’t get the point. It is simply beneath the dignity of his office for a president to directly insert himself in the chain of command to conduct minor operations. pl

  70. turcopolier says:

    Ah, good old “Merchants of Death” ideology. Stupid. pl

  71. turcopolier says:

    I don’t know at what level this approval was made but it should not have been made by the president. What the hell do we have SECDEF and the generals for? pl

  72. turcopolier says:

    His “first situation room event?” You want to place blame on the president for the conduct and fortunes of war mishaps of a small operation 5,000 miles away? Have you no sense of proportion at all or has your “righteous” angst carried you completely away? pl

  73. turcopolier says:

    I suppose you realize that I am protesting this kind of foolishness. I know they “get off” on it but the decision process should not be driven up to the president in SOF hit jobs. When that happens you then have the CinC going out to Dover every time they lose a few men because he personally approved this raid. You had SOG veteran friends. I am sure you understand how silly things like this look to me. And as you know they WILL lose men. pl

  74. turcopolier says:

    Oh, wow, face time with the president. Did they not stupidly brief him on this? This guy thinks he is a soldier because he went to a military prep school? somehow I suspect that the dynamic intellectual duo of Flynn and Harvey were involved in this. pl

  75. Jack says:

    Memories are short. Many forget the Rendon Group. And how the fraudster Chalabi arrived back in Baghdad with his ragtag INC force care of the CPA. Who knows if he was an Iranian agent or just the guy Wolfowitz needed for the Cheney wing to act out their regime change disaster which was backed by the Borg Queen.
    The NeverTrumpers have gone full bore hysterical. While they cheered the n-dimensional chess player Barak Hussein Obama and Hillary’s wars in Libya and Syria now we see their faux outrage with imagined actions that Trump may take or not.
    Rather disingenuous IMO.

  76. pl,
    I agree it’s foolishness and I would protest this right by your side for all the reasons you laid out. I think a lot of this foolishness is facilitated by modern communications systems. I long for the days when you would quietly get the mission, go off to accomplish that mission for however long it took, quietly come back and everyone would STFU. There were still many of those types in the squadrons of the SMU that I served in. I honor those men. On the other hand, the HQ was crawling with MI weenies, many who advanced into the JSOC bureaucracy. I considered them wannabes, posers who did “get off” on how high-speed and bad-ass they considered themselves. Flynn is of the later type.

  77. turcopolier says:

    In MACVSOG and STDAT-158 we launched really big ops (1,000 man sometimes)into Laos against NVA logistics and never told anyone about but PACOM based on a secure phone call. We had standing authorities. pl

  78. pl,
    I fear those days are long gone.
    “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

  79. Thomas says:

    I was going to ask why you think there would not be cooperation for a concluding the conflict and reading your Feb 1 4:41pm and today’s 2:19pm posts I am assuming the answer is in them. Or is there more such as Iraq not being able to take, eventually, Mosul?
    I do believe the Idlib province problem will be dealt with in time this year. The Russians seem adamant that the Syrians are going to due the bulk of work which slows things down as need for troops to finish in one area before being released for new operations as b has pointed out. My view are the Astana talks help by time to allow those Syrians wanting out a face saving way while Erdogan can get his brothers in that hood to separate from those on the final target list.
    This conflict needs to be concluded soon.
    Back to cautiously optimistic.

  80. Thomas says:

    The present solution is to turn this current militant force into a remnant of spiteful idealistic revivalists. Perhaps those generations yet to arrive here will read and learn from these times and find their way to balance the differences of life.

  81. turcopolier says:

    I am not going to search for material for you. If you have a question, ask it in a straightforward way in plain English. IMO the priority of effort should be in Idlib Province because time and tide wait for no man. sometime this year is not good enough if you want to win. IMO Idlib Province is the AQ connected center of gravity in western Syria nd once the water gets turned back on in Damascus this boil should be lanced forthwith.pl

  82. Thomas says:

    Some time this year would be by end of March, which I feel will happen.

  83. turcopolier says:

    That would be a good thing. pl

  84. Keith Harbaugh says:

    “U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.”

    What I can’t figure out is why the military would even go to the president for approval of an operation which was so inadequately prepped to begin with.
    If the operation was on such shaky foundations, how did it ever move up the chain of command?
    Sounds to me that, if the situation was as described,
    the fault is 100% somewhere in uniformed DOD, not at the WH.

  85. Origin says:

    It was just a question. I have no opinion or position on the event.

  86. ann says:

    Is this a tactical mistake or a strategic mistake? Or maybe you could point me to a book that would explain in depth.

  87. ann,
    This was a tactical operation just like other raids undertaken by JSOC elements. I couldn’t tell you whether this was a mistake or not. Probably not. Tactically, the objective was taken with light casualties. It doesn’t look total surprise was achieved. All this means it wasn’t perfect. Few things are in war.
    Just Google tactics vs strategy to get any number of explanations on the difference.

  88. ann says:

    Thank you, I’ll do that

  89. Trent says:

    Not urgent, but would appreciate your thoughts on Operation Eagle Claw in Iran in 1980. Was Carter too involved?

  90. turcopolier says:

    No. This was a major political issue and deserved the president’s involvement. pl

  91. turcopolier says:

    Those days should return. What was done should be undone. pl

  92. Pat Lang & TTG,
    The times have certainly changed. F.D.R., when he got involved in military ops., was concerned with matters like whether we should, in concert with our allies, land in France in 1943 or in 1944. Now we have a president approving a company (-) sized reconnaissance raid whose objective was to swipe some documents and computers.
    So, if the raid accomplished the mission, suffered 1 KIA and 3 WIA, and lost a helicopter through a malfunction, how is that causing so much angst? And, why should the president fly to Dover to greet the returning corpse? The last question was rhetorical. The answer is P.R.

  93. mike says:

    TTG –
    Today’s Phase III sit map:
    Doing well east of Raqqah. I have not seen any updates of what is happening on the western axis.

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