Twitter and email info

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Defending Baghdad

Link: IS Occupies Abu Ghraib

As we predicted here in Mookieland, operatives from the Islamic States (ISIS or IS), have started to occupy villages and geographic points of interest on the outskirts of Baghdad.  Baghdad is defended by a large contingent of Iraqi National Army troops and with U.S. technical assistance and advice, a defensive perimeter has been established.  The most effective tool that the Iraqi government has at its disposal is the 20,000-strong (and growing) Shia volunteer army.  Its my understanding that the Iraqi Army is trying to equip the Shia volunteers and provide some rudimentary training, then determine how the Shia would best be deployed.  I assume that the Shia volunteers are most interested in protecting the Shia slum neighborhoods of Sadr City, but large pockets of Shia civilians also live in Al-Baya', Hay Al-A'amel (south of Airport Road and west of the former Green Zone), and Al-Khadhimya.  The biggest problem that the government faces as it prepares the defenses of Baghdad, is to convince the Sunni population not to harbor operatives from the IS (which is a Sunni-based movement).  If the population of Baghdad really begins to believe that the IS will take the city, then to save their own necks (and the neck of their family members), they won't oppose an IS presence in their community.

The IS will continue to occupy little villages on the outskirts of Baghdad, both for publicity and to help create a supply network for operatives already in place within the city.  I imagine the regular Iraqi Army will march forth and attempt to dislodge the IS from Abu Ghraib, and they may be successful.  But the IS will just relocate whatever operation was taking place at Abu Ghraib to some other little shitty bedroom community of Baghdad.  The IS does not have the ability to launch a frontal assault on Baghdad.  First and foremost, the IS does not have the troops needed to conventionally attack Baghdad.  And an assault on Baghdad would have to begin with an Artillery barrage, to soften up the Iraqi defenses.  The IS would need to set up a legitimate artillery capability (they are in possession of a number of modern artillery pieces), which would be visible to the U.S. Air Force and the Iraqi military (I'm still trying to determine if the Iraqi Air Force is in possession of any offensive air elements).  While its true that the IS collected U.S.-made artillery that the Iraqi Army had deserted, any effort to set up such artillery on the outskirts of Baghdad would be impossible to hide.  I assume that the U.S. Air Force would wipe out any IS artillery positions outside of Baghdad.  In addition, for a traditional assault on a city, the IS would need to possess sufficient Armor.  First comes the artillery, then the tanks.  Again, the IS falls way short of possessing enough "working" tanks for an assault on Baghdad.  I have seen the publicity photos of IS thugs riding around on a captured Abrams.  An assault on Baghdad would require more than a few Abrams tanks, backed up by a handful of T-72 and T-69 standard Iraqi army issue.  I assume that Obama would approve the use of U.S. Air elements in the defense of Baghdad, and as was demonstrated in Gulf Wars One and Two, enemy armor has no chance against the U.S. Air Force.  In a nutshell, I'm willing to go out on a limb and declare that the IS will not be conducting a conventional military assault on Baghdad.

Can the IS take Baghdad?  Absolutely, through the use of well-trained and disciplined operatives, who move through the city street-by-street, making each neighborhood ungovernable.  The first step in any such operation would be to destabilize the civil administration.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the United States of America, through the use of its military and a dedicated stream of agencies and organizations, rebuilt Baghdad after the end of the insurgency.  The roads were fixed, traffic lights worked, schools were rebuilt (or built from the ground up), buses started running again, the markets flourished, and the toilets flushed.  Drivers started obeying traffic signs, for goodness sake.  The residents of Baghdad responded with great appreciation to the "fixing" of their capital city.  A few car bombs and assassinations later, and the people of Baghdad may revert to their previous lives living under siege.  The IS needs to disrupt the daily functions of Baghdad, and instill fear and a complete lack of confidence in the Iraqi government.  Any fear created by the IS will infect the Iraqi Army as well, and we've seen what happens to the Iraqi Army when it meets opposition (Gulf War One, Gulf War Two, the IS conflict).  I can only hope that the U.S. military advisors currently working to train the Iraqis, have a little potion that will make the Iraqi troops grow some balls.  (I once saw a video of a Shia tribesman attacking an Iraqi Army unit with a sword, for goodness sake.  At least the Shia defenders won't need a potion.)  Once the IS has destabilized the city and handed a few defeats to the Iraqi Army, the people of Baghdad, to save their own skin, will go into the streets to welcome the IS (as liberators from the Shia governments, I assume).

Unless the Iraqi High Command can formulate a plan to draw the IS into a conventional conflict, then defeating the IS will eventually require the Iraqi Army and its Shia brigades to move into the neighborhoods and remove IS operatives one at a time. Allowing the IS to establish a presence in Abu Ghraib might work in the Iraq Army's favor.  If you allow the enemy to set up shop in a known location, its easier to disrupt the flow of supplies and men.  If I were in charge of the Iraqi Army, I would take a page out of George W. Bush's strategy: force the enemy to fight a battle to which they are ill-suited.  Bush knew Al-Qaeda could not take on the U.S. Army in a conventional war, but he forced them into one anyways, by taking the battle to Al-Qaeda's backyard (Afghanistan and Iraq).  Unfortunately, politics intervened and the rest is history.  The Iraqi High Command should allow the IS to comfortably establish itself to the west of Baghdad.  Let the IS begin to feel possessive of the towns and villages under their control.  Give them the confidence to locate all of their heavy equipment in Abu Ghraib.  Then the Iraqi Army can use its advantages (heavier artillery, U.S. Air Force, a 20 to 1 superiority in armor (a guess on my part), and a huge advantage in ground troops.  Force IS to defend Abu Ghraib, and Ramadi, and Fallujah.  Tempt the IS out of its rat holes and into the open, and then crush them, completely.  NO PRISONERS.  Hey, is there any more of that mustard gas left over from the Iran/Iraq war? 

No comments:

Post a Comment