ISIS Parades Through Rutbah With Impunity

Why is the US War Against ISIS So Impotent?

An ISIS parade through Rutbah, in western al-Anbar province, yesterday, looks like a response to President Obama’s announcement that he authorized a Delta Force strike that killed an ISIS leader this weekend. This also follows the White House’s request for the media to stop using photos of ISIS in large convoys because “they don’t operate in the open anymore due to coalition airstrikes.”

But coalition airstrikes really aren’t as effective as the White House would want you to believe. Nor is pulling the trigger as clearcut as Hollywood and television makes it seem (my computer designated this target as 100% enemy, time to light ’em up, right boys?). The proof is in the parade.

No boots on the ground means no eyes for airstrikes.

Hollywood, television, and video games flavor the way wee see modern warfare. We watch a film, see a portrayal of military action, and unconsciously link that to reality. Hence the outrage that no coalition airstrike was approved for this convoy. As if it were so simple. But there are so many steps to getting that bomb dropped.

Like getting eyes on the convoy. And that’s something we just don’t have. Iraqi Army and Police reports are notorious for being inconsistent and sometimes false. When I served in Iraq we watched an IA soldier take photos of base damage after an enemy mortar attack with his phone and then text a battle damage assessment to enemy forces from inside the wire. Be polite, be professional, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

We need boots on the ground for two reasons: one, to verify intelligence on the ground. Two, to direct airstrikes. Pilot’s just don’t fly around and decide what they are going to shoot, there is a command presence and a chain of verification potential targets must go through. This takes much more time when you don’t have a Tactical Air Control Party or Forward Air Controller on the ground with the ability to authorize strikes on site.

On-site intelligence is worth 100x more than what comes from the rear.

ISIS operates with impunity

A limited coalition presence means a limited ability to deal with ISIS. Period. Obama has taken a holding pattern in the war against ISIS, after years of not listening to the advice of top military leaders and national security advisors. HUMINT way back in 2006 regarding insurgent groups noted that they were well aware that US forces were only going to be in Iraq for a period of time and were positioning to come out on top when the coalition left. But public opinion matters more to a President than intelligence, so when the American support for the war wavered, Obama thought it was a good time to sever ties with Iraq.

Clearly that was a bad decision. L Paul Bremer couldn’t have started an insurgency any better.

Low Quality of Iraqi Army/Police Recruits

Most of these guys can’t even do jumping jacks. And this ain’t limited to this one video, almost every Marine/Soldier who trained these guys had to start with the basics: jumping jacks, pushups, nutrition, washing your hand after you wipe your ass and before you eat, how to shower properly, that sort of thing. Really. 

The Iraq War Isn’t Over

The enemy gets a vote. We cannot conduct a limited engagement war against ISIS when they are parading through the streets, torturing men and women, raping, killing, and slaughtering. Continued inaction is immoral. Every day that President Obama and Congress don’t act to contain ISIS is another day that our government tacitly approves the oppression of the Iraqi people that 4,810 Americans died for.

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

—J.S. Mill