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Replied, and quite cleverly, I thought....but has disappeared into the the ether. Another night, another topic.
BM: So, you might know it's irreversible, and I might wonder if it's irreversible, but every Sunni I ever talked to (and that’s a fairly big number), from Gen. Shwani and the STU to Anbar tribal guys to FRE with the insurgency. was convinced the Sunnis in Iraq would rise again. Arguably they are, at the moment, even if they’re the beneficiary of a marriage of convenience that can’t end well. And I’m from the “Iran is above all a rational actor” school, so I’ve neither kelb nor kalb in the fight.
Patrick: I completely accept your thesis that ISIS is an intelligence driven organization first. Nothing else explains their success as well. That’s layered on a coherent caliphate ideology (well captured, I thought, in the Atlantic piece) plus an advertising campaign perfect for winning the hearts and minds of young lost men. Sex slaves and heaven?: I might join myself. Add in the idiocy of our invasion and the complete buffoonery of Maliki….you’ve got a pretty good recipe for success. Although I haven't been in Iraq for a while (so many wars, so little time!), I don't think I ever heard a Sunni friend refer to the Iraqi government as the Iraqi government: it was always the Persian government, and the Sunnis always "knew" they would return to power after the US left. The hard core Saddam guys plus the hard core religious make a pretty good team. For now. And forgive me if I double post--I don't have great internet at the moment, and sometimes can't tell if something has been accepted, or not.
TG: Not what I'm arguing at all. I wrote more below, before I saw your comment, You don't do this kind of totally creative deception operation unless you also plan for a big big payoff at the end. And there's no evidence they did.
Trust me, I'm looking at it from the enemy's perspective. You're presenting this as the crown jewel of deception operations. Serious planning, by pros.and a long time commitment to an ambush scenario. Good IED makers. A valuable enough target to rig the entire place to blow (a tactic used during US occupation). An organization with plenty of money for NODs. You don't know, for sure, if or when they are coming, but you know a significant Time on Target is needed to search for hostages and get into every room. You don't plan for disrupting the unpredictable arrival, you plan on disrupting the departure. Visuals for Desert One and 3 October were both pretty significant propaganda victories. A helo load of dead Bragg bodies, and as you noted, possibly captured survivors, would have made it even better. I just hope your sources for the rest of the article on IS tradecraft, which I found fascinating, were better than your source for this op. It's also possible that they plan like geniuses, but shoot like the Thee Stooges!
Patrick, very impressive article, and equally impressive use of intelligence by ISIS. As an operator, though, as much as a 2, one thing jumped out as completely unrealistic--your account of the camp "SOBL" raid. Don't buy it, at least as described. You're telling me that an enemy crafty enough to develop a lure like that, with time and plenty of firepower, couldn't predict the locations of in extremis extraction HLZs, and make near infallible plans to destroy the helos as they come in for extraction? Even given a surprise entry, via stealth patrol or quick fast rope, they had plenty of time to target the inevitable rotary wing platforms coming to pull the boys from the firefight. Almost nothing is easier to do than shoot down a hovering helo at a predictable place, given time, planning, and plenty of the right firepower.
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May 29, 2015