Syria: A Drop In The Bucket

As a combat veteran I feel it is my duty to keep an eye on our many conflicts and especially the ones that involve our troops in the thick of the fighting.

Word came down last week that more troops will be sent to Syria in the final push to the ISIS capital of Raqqa.  This time the Marines got the call of arms….

US forces in Syria have begun airdropping troops behind ISIS lines near the town of al-Tabqa, and near the important Tabqa Dam. The exact details of the airdrop are still emerging but they are said to include some US Marines as well as a number of Kurdish forces.

The area around Tabqa is just the latest in a series of targets for the Kurdish YPG as they attempt to surround the ISIS capital of Raqqa. Tabqa is about 25 miles west of the capital, and Kurdish YPG forces mostly control the area north of the city, though they’ve also made some efforts to take the northeast.

The airdrops, which began on Tuesday, were the first US airdrops of Kurdish forces so far in Syria, and the deployment of US Marines with them points to the continued escalation of direct US military involvement on the ground by the Trump Administration.

In recent weeks, the US has also deployed hundreds of other US Marines with howitzers into the area north of Raqqa, aiming to provide support for advances toward the city. While the Pentagon officially labeled the howitzer Marines “advisers,” there appears to be little doubt that they, along with the new airdropped troops, will be involved in combat in the course of this deployment.

(antiwar.com)

Is this the beginning of the end for ISIS in Syria?  Or will it be the end of the beginning of US troop involvement in Syria?

Of course as usual this mean NOTHING to most Americans…but it worries me for the future.

Fighting The Good War

I have been teaching a class on terrorism…so I watch the studies and papers done on the subject….especially the ISIS entity…..

Since the early days of ISIS every politician worth his/her salt has thumped their chest like some sex crazed primate and predicted the defeat of ISIS and a return to normalcy (I threw that part in to see if anyone is paying attention)……and then we elected a new president and now all the players are serious about the defeat of a inhumane foe.

First let me say…BUNK!  Terror is a tactic and not an entity…we may defeat a group but not the ideas.  It makes great slogans to predict the defeat but reality is more sober than some kneejerk slogan.

I have tried to let my readers know what will happen with the defeat of ISIS…..

Source: Defeating ISIS – In Saner Thought

Slowly but slowly after many long years ISIS is being decimated in Iraq ans Syria….it has taken lots of cash and lots of bombs but there seems to be a light at the end of this nightmare……but what are we really looking at these days?

Later this month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to host a 68-nation meeting in Washington to discuss the next moves by the coalition fighting the Islamic State, a senior Trump administration official said on Thursday.

This comes as the Islamic State, an actual state with territory and population, is on the verge of extinction, but remains a threat to the U.S. and many parts of the world. Since 2014, the group’s control over people has been cut by roughly 80 percent in Iraq and 56 percent in Syria, according to our estimates. The Islamic State is also slowly but steadily losing control of its largest remaining city, Mosul. Its capital, Raqqa, has been isolated and is awaiting assault. Foreign fighter flows to the region peaked in 2016 and have drastically shrunk. Thousands of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria have been killed, captured, dispersed, or driven underground.

Source: Why a Dying Islamic State Could Be an Even Bigger Threat to America | World Affairs Journal

After two  months of leadership(?) Tillerson does not exhibit much leadership and yet he is going to let the world know…..exactly what?

But say we are successful and we hand ISIS their asses on a plate…..after ISIS just what will the strategy be for fighting terrorism?

The United States is approaching a strategic pivot in its struggle against jihadist terror groups. It appears increasingly likely that ISIS will be militarily defeated, even if the precise timing remains uncertain.[1] The core of ISIS’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria will be destroyed; the group will no longer exert control over significant territory or population in those countries. ISIS will go down fighting, of course, and do enormous amounts of harm in its death throes. Yet given the formidable international forces—anchored by the U.S. military—arrayed against it, and the organization’s increasingly desperate military situation, it seems highly probable that ISIS’s days are numbered.

Source: After ISIS: U.S. Political-Military Strategy in the Global War on Terror | RealClearDefense

We, the American people, have heard it all…..the rhetoric is as thick as maple syrup in winter….so far I have not heard anything that would fill me with optimism for the future of our war on terror.

We and our allies, whoever they are, may well kick the screaming crap out of ISIS….but that will not win the war….a successful battle does not win the war.  As of yet I have not heard anything that resembles a good battle plan for the future.

But What Is The Strategy?

The good news is…..thinking……thinking……not much but since we are about to spend our national asses off in defense maybe we should take a look at what we would get for the money.

An essential element is missing from President Donald Trump’s plan for boosting the budgets of the U.S. military services by $54 billion in 2018. How, exactly, does the commander in chief intend to use the world’s most potent fighting force?

Beyond the threat posed by the Islamic State and other militant groups, Trump doesn’t articulate what he’s defending the country from. Defeating what Trump and his aides call “radical Islamic terrorism” doesn’t require an additional investment of tens of billions of dollars. And Trump, whose “America First” mantra suggested an isolationist approach, has viewed Russia as a potential partner, not an adversary.

Source: Trump’s defense budget boost raises questions on strategy | PBS NewsHour

To be fair, and yes I can do that, to Trump there has not been a real strategy for decades……all want to boost the military but none have any idea of how they will be used….I guess the strategy is that we will play it by ear for now……problem is we need to stop wasting time and sit down and look at the future of our services……

There have been many National Security Strategy (NSS) development efforts over the past decades. But it appears we have not had a traditional, thorough, objective national strategy review and update since 9/11. As taught in our military education system, force structure determination must begin with a review of the NSS. The last two NSS products were issued by the Obama Administration in 2010 and 2015. The 2010 strategy was cited as a significant departure from previous strategies, with one point being the elimination of reference to Islamic radicalism.

Source: National Military Strategy Development—Time for a Revolutionary Approach | RealClearDefense

We have a written review every so often….but like most things it does not look deep enough in the international situation….they cover the problems in our face and never tries to find the ones in the shadows….I do not expect too much from the Trump admin…..they seem to think more money means better military…..that is the M-IC talking in the review.

Just a few months into the Trump administration, it still isn’t clear what course the president’s foreign policy will ultimately take. What is clear, however, is that the impulsiveness, combativeness, and recklessness that characterized Donald Trump’s election campaign have survived the transition into the presidency. Since taking office, Trump has continued to challenge accepted norms, break with diplomatic traditions, and respond to perceived slights or provocations with insults or threats of his own. The core of his foreign policy message is that the United States will no longer allow itself to be taken advantage of by friends or foes abroad. After decades of “losing” to other countries, he says he is going to put “America first” and start winning again.

Source: A Vision of Trump at War – Council on Foreign Relations

Time for a real National Security Strategy (NSS)….but that will take thought and that is simply not available in the Trump WH.

Believe me when I tell you that Twitter is not the answer.

Did Congress Grow A Set?

I have been going on and on about a spineless Congress that allows these multiple wars to be fought without authorization…..well that could be not the case soon….

While the Pentagon provides plans for the Trump Administration for a major escalation of the US involvement in the war in Syria, new bipartisan legislation is being pushed in both the House and the Senate aiming to oppose the escalation and put legal obstacles in the way of it.

Reps. Barbara Lee (D – CA) and Walter Jones (R – NC) are pushing one such bill, aiming to force Congress to debate US involvement in Syria, and to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to prevent the administration from using it as an excuse for the operation.

With the repeal of the AUMF, the bill would also explicitly forbid the deployment of additional US ground troops to Syria without any permission from Congress. The bill is gaining some support in both parties, though past efforts to repeal the AUMF, and to try to limit the wars in Iraq and Syria, have never gained enough support to pass

This is just one of the bills aimed at US policy is Syria, with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI) and Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) offering a bipartisan “Stop Arming Terrorists Act,” which would forbid US government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other terrorist group.

The Gabbard bill would also require the Director of National Intelligence to provide up to date lists every six months of the individuals and groups forbidden to receive aid, either because they are terrorist groups or are working with them. This is another piece of information that the CIA has previously, desperately, sought to avoid as part of its arming program.

(antiwar.com)

Granted this is not a unanimous bill and there is not a consensus but any stretch….but it is a step forward of applying the breaks to a spiraling war business that wants a war at the drop of a hat.

I can only hope that sanity will return to the way we authorize war.

A Well Deserved Homecoming

With little fanfare a US soldier has come home…..

The Korean War has been over for 60+ years and yet not everyone has come home….one more causality of that war has made a much deserved homecoming……

The remains of an Army medic from Massachusetts who was reported missing in action during the Korean War in 1950 are returning home for burial, military officials said Tuesday.

Cpl. Jules Hauterman Jr. is scheduled to be buried in Holyoke on March 31 with full military honors, according to the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Hauterman, of Hampden, will be buried in the family plot with his parents and sister, said David Stuntz, whose 94-year-old mother is Hauterman’s cousin.

Hauterman was 19 years old when he was reported missing in action during the fighting withdrawal of the 31st Regimental Combat Team from the Chosin Reservoir in December 1950, military officials said.

More than 1,300 Americans, pursued by the Chinese army, were captured or killed.

Neither the Chinese nor the North Korean armies listed Hauterman as a prisoner, and no returning American POWs reported any information about him, so he was declared dead.

Remains recovered from the reservoir area in 1954 were declared unidentifiable and buried the next year in Hawaii.

Those remains were disinterred last June and were sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s lab for analysis.

Dental and anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence matched Hauterman’s records.

The Accounting Agency said 7,757 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

(yahoo news)

Welcome home soldier….may you Rest in Peace…..

Wanted Dead Or Alive

Josh Randall hunts the Wild West for those dastards that have broken the law and are wanted so they may pay for their sins…..so goes the story line of a 60’s TV show.  But this time we are not talking the Old West where men were men and sheep ran scared.

This time we are looking for the leader, the caliph, of ISIS…aL-Baghdadi.  As troops zero in on Mosul and the home of ISIS leader it appears that the coward has tucked tale and ran.  He left town dressed as an elderly nun (my assertion not fact).

Did he run to the capital of ISIS, Raqqa?  Does not look as if he did…..for it is being attacked as I type.   He went where all good terrorists go when they are pursued by the US…Afghanistan.

ISIL Caliphate, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, is said to have fled Mosul. ISIL says this is not true and it makes everyone believe he is still there. Though we have never thought of killing individuals, or terrorist leaders, as important compared to refuting their ideas, it is always tempting to see the head of this criminal gang behind bars or being beheaded by one of his many victims.

But the question is: Where did Baghdadi go?

Naturally, a group like ISIL will think of securing its symbol where it has some infrastructure capable of providing a safe refuge to him. The only place that comes to mind is Afghanistan or any geographically inaccessible region in Central Asia.

This should raise again the more important issue of the expansion of terrorist Jihadism in that region. This issue is steadily growing and it is likely that in a decade or two, and so long as global cooperation does not move to this ground fast, we will be talking less about the Middle East and more about Central Asia.

Source: ISIL’s Caliph Left Mosul. Is he Now in Afghanistan? | Middle East Briefing

This could be good news….we have al-Baghdadi cornered like we had AQ’s master mind bin Laden in Afghanistan….oh wait…..we fucked up that gimme.

Al-Baghdadi could be anywhere….he could be a yak herder in southern Uzbekistan or a poppy grower in Afghanistan….no one knows just yet.

So what are the chances that we will get our man?  Or will this be a replay of the bin Laden affair in 2001?  Will it take another decade to “get our man”?

Did anyone notice?

Road Map To Success

WE as a country are fighting many wars around the world….and most of them are with non-state entities…ISIS, Taleban, AQ, et al……..and the way the world is shaking out this will be the future of warfare, at least as it looks today.

Our State Department (what’s left of it) and the Pentagon needs to find a doable strategy for these types of conflicts……

If, as President Obama asserted, “ideologies are not defeated by guns,” but by “better ideas,” then how should the U.S. military be used to help achieve strategic success in the growing number of protracted, irregular conflicts with ideologically-motivated violent non-state actors (VNSAs)? In Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, the Philippines, and many more countries around the globe, VNSAs, motivated by religious, political, ethnic and other status-quo-challenging ideas, have been remarkably resilient, perseverant, and influential. By surviving and rapidly recovering from punishing attacks by the United States and its partners—while continuing to carry out violent agendas against local, regional, and even global adversaries—these VNSAs can credibly claim that they are succeeding strategically. With broad, ambiguous long-term strategic objectives, and an open-ended, evolving path to strategic success, the United States has generally conducted limited military operations intended to disrupt and degrade such VNSAs, followed by the hopeful but indefinite objective of “ultimately defeating” them. In view of the VNSAs’ resilience, persistence, and ideological basis for conflict, the path to strategic success for the United States has remained elusive. Although its military has achieved tactical and operational successes against such adversaries, the U.S. government has struggled to define, much less achieve, strategic success. If military success is not sufficient against ideologically-motivated VNSAs, then how can the United States achieve strategic success and what is the military’s role?

Source: Winning Indefinite Conflicts: Achieving Strategic Success Against Ideologically-Motivated Violent Non-State Actors | Small Wars Journal

Plus we are, as I have said, fighting a multi-domain war……fighting around the world……and this appears to be the way forward for the foreseeable future….we need a plan and we need a good workable plan……

U.S. Army leaders today wrestled with the challenges of equipping and supplying soldiers in what the service sees as a multi-threat battlefield of the future.

To Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the Army has grown too dependent on contractor support to sustain its combat units, a practice that has led to bad habits over the last 15 years of war.

Source: Army Leaders Search for Answers to Multi-Domain Battle | Military.com

What got me on the road to this post was something that I read in the news awhile back…..I watch conflicts around the world and the way they are fought and resolved…..and the report I read was a bit disturbing……

Donald Trump’s administration is considering a military proposal that would designate various undeclared battlefields worldwide to be “temporary areas of active hostility”, the Guardian has learned.

If approved, the Pentagon-proposed measure would give military commanders the same latitude to launch strikes, raids and campaigns against enemy forces for up to six months that they possess in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Source: Pentagon wants to declare more parts of world as temporary battlefields | US news | The Guardian

To my way of thinking this is a free ride to attack and kill with little or no oversight.

As SecState Tillerson made sure to point out……he has made it clear the diplomacy is out of the question….if that is out what then?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that “all of the options are on the table,” including the use of military force, to deal with the threat of North Korea and its ever-escalating weapons program.

Tillerson, making his first trip to South Korea since taking over as America’s top diplomat, visited the demilitarized zone along the border with North Korea on Friday, according to the Associated Press. He said preemptive military action against North Korea, which recently conducted a ballistic missile test, could be necessary if the repressive regime’s weapons program rises to a level “that we believe requires action.”

If diplomacy is a failure then all options are NOT on the table.

You want something to fear then I give you above for a bit of contemplation.

But it will fall on deaf ears….for most are too narrow minded to think past the headline of the day from the “Ignorati”.