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.

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”.

Escalate……Escalate……Dance To The Music

Afghanistan–America’s forgotten war!

Afghanistan is seldom in the news these day unless someone goes batcrap crazy and has violent breakdown.

Just a few facts about this conflict……opium production is at an all time high…..the Taleban takes in more and more territory…..USA troops are still doing what they have been doing for a decade…..surviving….making do as it were.

Plus three U.S. soldiers were wounded when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, U.S. officials said.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the blast in Nangarhar province, where loyalists to the group have been operating since 2015.

We have a new president and it seems he has the same plan as his predecessor….keep on keeping on…..with one small difference……his generals want to escalate……

As a candidate, Trump was critical of America’s land wars but his generals and GOP hawks want to send more troops into Afghanistan, 16 years after 9/11.

“We made a terrible mistake getting involved in the first place,” he told CNN in October, referring to the war in Afghanistan, which he called a “mess.” “I would leave the troops there begrudgingly,” the then-presidential candidate added. “Believe me, I’m not happy about it.”

Source: Trump Has Called the Afghan War a “Mess.” His Generals Want to Escalate It.

More troops to Syria a desire to escalate in Afghanistan……and so it begins.

Given America is constantly expanding its military footprint around the world—most recently into Syria and the Central African Republic—one can be forgiven for forgetting about the longest war in the history of the United States: the war in Afghanistan. But a new column by retired colonel and professor Andrew Bacevich pulls the war back into focus, and the picture is not pretty.

Despite over 15 years of support, the government in Kabul currently controls only 63% of the country. It is likely to lose control of more territory with serious advances by Taliban forces in the last year [PDF]. The government has been rife with corruption primarily related to stealing U.S. development funds and facilitating heroin smuggling. Afghanistan remains the world capital for opium production, and is even hitting new highs.

Source: Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace In Afghanistan

This field of conflict is getting pathetic…time to declare a win and come home.

In case anyone actually cares and I doubt they do……

It’s being called an “insider attack” in some reports, but an incident today in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, in which three US soldiers were shot and wounded by an Afghan soldier, does not appear to have involved an infiltrator, as most previous incidents have.

Col. Mohammad Rasool Zazai, an Afghan Army spokesman, insisted the soldier “made a mistake” and had not deliberately fired his gun. The soldier, as yet unidentified in public statements, was apparently killed in the incident.

Because of the size of the Afghan military and its low pay, recruiting standards are very low, and this has allowed a number of Taliban to infiltrate, stealing weapons or using their access as “soldiers” to carry out attacks on the rest of the Afghan security forces.

(antiwar.com)

And the song continues.

What if the U.S. Invaded Syria and Nobody Noticed?

I have been watching the conflict in Syria since the beginning….I have watched the players form, fight, change sides and destroy……and in all that time the US has been slowly but slowly building up its forces in the region….as if there was something big about to happen.

We have a new president and he has promised to destroy ISIS and even considered an all out conflict in Syria….with whom we are not quite sure…..in all this time few Americans have noticed the conflict beyond some passing diatribe about the past history of the region……

The media should be covering this more

While everyone was paying attention to the latest crazy Trump story, United States Marines deployed to Syria.

Did you hear about that? If you didn’t, it’s not your fault. The news has been all Trump all the time.

Source: What if the U.S. Invaded Syria and Nobody Noticed?

What will it take to get Americans to actually care that the country is heading head long into another war that will turn into yet another quagmire?
To answer the question….NO one will notice….most are too busy with their little lives to care about our troops and their families or the damage this is doing to us internationally.

What The World Needs Is More Syria

Of course my friends the title is sarcasm……since the US has decided that more troops were needed and needed to be stationed within the borders of Syria the Middle East country has been foisted into the eye of the public…..

Since it is the talk of the town…..at least for us conflict wonks and foreign policy geeks….I would like to give my readers what the MSM is saying about Syria…..

I recently reported on the addition of 400 more troops for Syria…..I was worried….and with good reason…..

The US could double the number of ground troops it has in Syria over the next few weeks, the Washington Post reports. As Syrian Democratic Forces, comprised of Kurdish and Arab fighters, prepare for an assault on Raqqa—essentially the capital of the Islamic State in Syria—the US military is devising plans for sending up to 1,000 more troops to the area. There are currently approximately 500 US Special Operations forces, 250 Rangers, and 200 Marines in Syria.

The new troops wouldn’t be directly involved in combat, at least at first. They’d mostly be serving as advisers to Syrian Democratic Forces. However the move could lead to direct combat by US troops. The troop increase is likely to be approved by Defense Secretary Mattis and would then need President Trump’s approval. Trump has accused the Obama administration of being weak on Syria, where it had been hesitant to commit ground troops.

Like I said…it is only a matter of time….

More on Syria…….

Syrian military airstrikes on rebels were responsible for severing water supplies to 5.5 million people in the Damascus region for weeks starting last December, the United Nations said on Tuesday, rebutting government claims that insurgents were to blame. – New York Times

Syria’s civil war began six years ago this week as a popular revolt against the brutal regime of President Bashar Assad. Now a domestic uprising that has left an estimated 500,00 dead and millions homeless has morphed into a global war, sucking major powers into a conflict growing more volatile by the day. – USA Today

The European Union unveiled a plan to support the reconstruction of war-torn Syria on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the first protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Six years since the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, he is winning on the battlefield but Syria’s civil war is far from over, with his once stable country broken into fiefdoms ruled by rebels and warlords. – Reuters

The top U.N. human rights official called on Tuesday for tens of thousands of detainees to be released from Syria’s prisons and for torturers and executioners to be brought to justice as part of a lasting peace. – Reuters

The international community must do more to protect healthcare in Syria as medical services become targets of war, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal on Tuesday. – Reuters

Frederick and Kimberly Kagan write: No single military operation can achieve victory in Syria. But an operation against the enemy’s heartland, freed of the constraints imposed by problematic proxies, would change the assumptions of America’s friends and enemies. President Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming America’s approach to it. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Read the report. “America’s Way Ahead in Syria” – American Enterprise Institute/Institute for the Study of War

I by no means agree with most of this “news” and analysis…..especially the analysis from AEI/ISW…..there will be more analysis from me soon on this situation…..until then hold your breath that this does not escalate beyond our capabilities to handle.

Syria is making its way to the forefront……promises will be kept and more Americans will be foisted into them cauldron of nation building……yet again.

War: Could The “Golden Arches” Be The Answer?

There are times when I need a few moments of insanity and when that occurs I turn to the tellie to ease my troubled brain…..I was watching an ad for the new movie about the founder of the world famous McDonald’s franchise…..when something snapped in the deep recesses of my mind…..”Golden Arches”……”Golden Arches”?

I intend to pass on some of the theories I studied in school and believe me there are a wealth of them.

I recall when studying conflict management and resolution in college there was a theory that involved the “Golden Arches”…(thinking….thinking…..thinking)…..finally as I sat at my desk thinking it came to me….BAM!…… in a flash of inspiration….The “Golden Arches” Theory of Conflict Prevention….

Anyway while we were studying conflicts this came up as one of those WTF? theories…..after all there are as many theories here as hairs on your butt……

Let’s get to it….shall we?

The Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention was proposed by economist Thomas Friedman as a way of explaining how globalization affects foreign policy and conflict. Essentially, the Theory points out that no two countries that both have McDonalds franchises have ever gone to war. The reasoning behind this correlation, Friedman says, is that once economies become sufficiently integrated, both the cost of going to war and the amount of contact between two countries will increase. Both these factors lead to more effective conflict resolution, as states will attempt to pursue the more economically beneficial option. Friedman’s argument echoes the main suppositions of the democratic peace theory, which states that democracies never go to war. Friedman’s analysis simply takes this argument further in his economic emphasis, although he places a similar amount of emphasis on the role of domestic society in influencing a government’s willingness to go to war.

See….even international relations geeks have a sense of humor…..

A fascinating theory but a bit much….there are problems with this…….

The Golden Arches Theory has not held true in all cases, and explanations to explain these inconsistencies vary. In some cases, the increased contact between two countries due to integration may actually exacerbate points of contention between the two states, leading to more opportunities for conflict. Or, the difference may lie in the type of government in power: a democratic government may follow the Golden Arches Theory, but the Theory may break down when confronted with cases of nondemocratic or authoritarian regimes. The Golden Arches Theory assumes that governments respond to the desires of their constituents for economic stability and that the government knows it will be held accountable in the case that it does not provide for the economic well-being of its citizens. In the case of an authoritarian or nondemocratic state, leaders may not experience these dilemmas, causing them not to act in accordance with the Golden Arches Theory.

Now you know more than most about international relations and conflict resolution.

You’re welcome.