Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq/Syria) Update

Posted on: November 21st, 2014 by Will Rodriguez 41 Comments
Inherent Resolve Ammo Bunker Strike 19 Nov '14

There’s been a flurry of events going on over the last month that have put events in Iraq and Syria on the back burner.  After about three months of airstrikes and deploying well over 1000 “advisors” the operation has been publicly named “Inherent Resolve” a striking paradox considering neither word lends itself to describe the conduct of the operation.

Since August NBC news reports there have been 945 airstrikes (521 in Iraq and 424 in Syria).  For comparison’s sake the 78 day Kosovo campaign of 1999 to stop the humanitarian catastrophe there resulting in Yugoslavia withdrawing its forces yielded 10,484 strikes and the deployment of a credible ground force that would have decimated the Yugoslav Army.

ISIS has not been seriously harmed.  They don’t travel anymore in military convoys with flags waving but they have increased their perimeter around Baghdad and continue to draw foreign fighters to the region.  Their strength still numbers somewhere between 20-30 thousand troops. US military officials continue to evaluate Iraqi troops as unable to engage in the offense and Gen Dempsey has cautioned the Iraqis from going “too far into hostile areas” as he describes the strength between ISIS and Iraqi military forces as a “delicate balance”.   We are spending about eight million dollars a day with about $830 million spent so far.

The latest beheading of former Army Ranger Peter Kassig has prompted the administration to conduct a review of hostage policy.  I think that’s “code” for “find me an excuse to negotiate with terrorists so the bad optics go away”.  CNN reported Under Secretary of Defense Christine Wormuth describing the review to Representative Hunter as looking for “innovative and non-traditional solutions” to hostage-recovery efforts.   A former roommate of Peter Kassig speculates that Kassig fought back or did something to cause his captors to film his execution differently.  Kassig did not make a statement unlike his predecessors before he was gruesomely murdered.

I can’t help but notice how the Administration’s response to the latest video is in the same vein as releasing the operational details of the failed Delta raid to rescue James Foley.  I wrote about how those startling operational details were released the day after James Foley’s decapitation video. They were released to limit the backlash and distract the public.  Simultaneously, that information release put future raids at risk as well as the soldiers that go on them.

Currently the US is highly limited in its ability to strike ISIS with the overwhelming majority of targeting intel coming from drone surveillance or electronic monitoring.   Where we lack in our ability to strike the enemy we make up for in our efforts to combat PTSD in our intelligence analysts by providing a therapy dog to relieve the stress.

The administration has announced it’s doubling the US military presence by sending another 1500 troops to Iraq.  They have already started to deploy.  The administration further emphasized its commitment to not deploy combat troops ridiculously speculating US troops wouldn’t be sent into combat unless ISIS secured nuclear weapons.

There is one ray of sunshine in Operation “Inherent Resolve”.  The military released a bunch of video of recent strikes if one enjoys spectacular precision bombing video.   A couple of clips demonstrate the technique of dropping multiple precision munitions on the same point to increase penetration enabling the destruction of hard to reach underground bunkers.  Iran is likely taking notice.  Then again they likely don’t need to worry too much.  The nuclear deal desperately being sought by Secretary of State John Kerry looks like it will be giving away the farm or providing Iran more time under relaxed sanctions.  Maybe they’ll call that agreement “Inherent Resolve” also?

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Not a serious air effort… measured against previous campaigns.  A
    touch better than the UN fiasco in the Balkans.  Your (say) Canadian
    troops getting mortar fire.  So you request air strike… oops… sorry,
    wrong form submitted… try again… Oh, I’m sorry… Friday
    afternoon… nobody at UN military HQ in New York until Monday.  At last
    a single fighter bomber swoops down on enemy positions on mountain
    side… destroys one truck… and that’s all folks…
    .
    …There
    will indeed be “boots (or maybe wheels) on the ground.  While it seems
    that in Australia some biker gangs allied with Moslem extremists… http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/australia-fears-islamist-radicals-joining-forces-with-biker-gangs/ar-BBeUnTS?ocid=mailsignout           in Europe… a Dutch (and later a German) motorcycle gang announced going to
    “help the Kurds” fight Isis. 
    .
    …The Dutch government has
    actually given
    this latest “European Crusade” its blessing… though the Kurds might be
    slightly less enthusiastic… Bikers tend to go overboard if a motorist
    flips them off… how will they handle a rifle shot from a village?
    .

    …In a way it’s easier to deal with the bikers on the side of ISIS… Just apply a.223 wrench.  
    .
    …As
    to those (in theory) on our side… images of the Norman Spinrad’s 
    “The Iron Dream” come to mind.  For the those without literary
    inclination, the 1970 film “Nam Angels” (AKA “The Losers”)
    .
    http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Dream-Norman-Spinrad/dp/0515047414/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416615506&sr=1-1&keywords=iron+dream
    .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nsBG356GQc
    .
    -YP-

  • steelhorse

    i agree Maj they want to negociate with every body their not going to stop iran either now china and russia are hacking in to everything the cross hairs are on our back and our body armor says made in china. 2yrs is a long time then we have to get someone elected who has a back bone and a love of the county and reverence for the constiution not sure who that will be but much damage has been done hopefully we can reverse some of it.i think these countries & terriorst know Obama is weak but they also know that the people of this country are not so there is still hope.

  • clluelo

    well done Will, just how I fee. things are not going as well as is being portrayed by the media, Iraqi government or even Centcom. It is time for some honesty about what this is going to take to rid the world of the latest incarnation n of evil

  • Txazz

    This saga gets more ridiculous every report . . unless ISIS gets nukes?  Methinks Obama is seeing his “legacy” quickly fading.  Nice job, Will.

  • Michael_mike

    No boots on the ground? SAS sniper are hunting in quads and I got the very feeling that they are not alone.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/isis-sas-troops-riding-quad-4678493

    They are a small team (with the numbers from the article I would say  about 10 to 15) and they look close to  kill more IS per day than a whole coalition with its airpower. While they have their own capability, the fear factor is definitely deeper and more persistent as a sniper does not need to target a large position to justify the cost of its ammo and it can wait as long as necessary.

  • Michael_mike

    Hmmm, Just saw that an article was posted about this but I can’t delete my post.

  • Michael_mike 
    I was referring to US boots…
    Snipers are very effective at impacting an enemy’s morale but like airpwoer I’ve never heard them win a war on their own…

  • clluelo 
    There will be no honesty until well past the next election and by that time the stark truth we’ll be facing and its cost will rend hearts.

  • steelhorse 
     http://www.jpost.com/International/Exclusive-Cornered-but-unbound-by-nuclear-pact-Israel-reconsiders-military-action-against-Iran-382541

  • YankeePapa

    majrod steelhorse ,
    .
    …This is either optimism on stilts… or a mere fig leaf to let the politcos move on to more important matters (like the next election…)  This sort of approach worked brilliantly for them in North Korea…
    .
    …Politicos of both parties promising that the North would never be permitted to obtain nukes.  “Give sanctions a chance to work…”  (How did that work with tiny Rhodesia?) And of course once they had nukes the administration unlucky enough to be in office when it happened dismissed all calls for action…. (“We can’t… they have nukes…”)
    .
    …Most American civilians (and many politicians) don’t understand how some scenarios can pretty much guarantee hostilities.  China invades Japan… ok, they can understand that… but not always that simple… 
    .
    …In 1967 Nasser (who really did not want a war, but hoisted by his own petard as the mobs demanded ever more) forced Israel into a permanent call-up of its reserves.  Its economy would simply collapse after a while.  So Israel’s pacifist Prime Minister authorized a preemptive strike… 
    .
    …Not too long after I got out of the Marine Corps I remember that the Pakistani Army was committing atrocities in East Pakistan (soon to become Bangladesh).  Countless refugees fled to India.  
    .
    …The British Institute of Strategic Studies released a report stating that there were so many refugees in India that it would actually be cheaper for India to fight a war with Pakistan forever… than to take care of the refugees forever…  (“Mate in three moves…”)  I expected India to act very quickly… It was less than a week…
    .
    -YP-

  • LawyerHandle

    Someone new will be helping the fight soon- and will be required to navigate the Afghan non- withdrawal/withdrawal. Hagel was forced out at DoD:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/us/hagel-said-to-be-stepping-down-as-defense-chief-under-pressure.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=span-ab-top-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0
    The top three names being put out as replacements:
    Michele Fornouy
    Jack Reed
    Aston Carter

  • @LawyerHandle 
    Hagel’s firing is classic scapegoating.  Hagel has done everything the administration directed him to do. Instructive lesson on how the administration accepts responsibility.  It really is a silly move especially in light of the three names you suggested considering they’d do exactly what’s been done to date.

    In reality the administration should make a public announcement about a change in policy.  That’s about as likely as discovering unicorns actually exist.  The best call is for the administration to select a dove to lead the Pentagon.

  • steelhorse

    Hell Will your being to kind you mean another America is the evil in the world we have no right to tell anyone what they can have lead from the rear with the gear leftist. A dove might be a step up.

  • Michael_mike

    LawyerHandle John McCain had something to say about it.

    “”I just talked to him,” said McCain. “They’re gonna say, well, it was time for a change. Well, let me tell you. He was in my office last week. He was very frustrated. We have no strategy.” 

    The incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee ticked off the crisis regions around the globe, from the ISIS-occupied sections of the Levant to China, and reiterated that Hagel was a good man who could not fix an Obama policy that was blundering and making the country weaker.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2014-11-24/john-mccain-chuck-hagel-was-up-to-the-job

  • Michael_mike

    majrodI know but that make me feel more skeptical about that no boots on the ground statement. Just like when all the rest of the coalition are talking of a mission to degrade ISIS when only one is speaking about it total destruction. That’s odd.

    FWIW I think the actual strategy might work if the troops have a persistent motivation (I did not forget that their army recently fled like the Vietnamese) but it will be slow and painful at best … and very expensive on our side. I believe that they can reclaim their land but I feel very sceptical about stabilizing it.

  • steelhorse

    maj Bebe will strike Iran the problem he has is its a suicide mission I don’t think there planes can make the round Trip on fuel with out our help but I believe they will go anyway and have volunteers.

  • steelhorse 
    Don’t be so sure.  Israel was cutting a deal with Azerbaijan to refuel in their country in 2012. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/28/israel_s_secret_staging_ground
    There’s also been a lot of speculation that Saudi Arabia would help with airfields and potentially more.  
    Israel also owns a small known fleet of air to air refuelers but there was again speculation of homegrown solutions.  Considering how resourceful the Israelis can be it wouldn’t surprise me if they turned some civilian airliners into refuelers.

  • YankeePapa

    majrod steelhorse ,
    .
    …Word on the street for a long time now has been that if Saudi air defense picked up Israeli aircraft heading for Iran… they would “fail to notice it…”  
    .
    …Logistics for such an op definitely far more involved than their Iraq “sterilization” effort decades back… (in hindsight, an effective means of arms control in that case…)  America’s “Desert One” effort was later referred to as a “moon shot…”  It could be done… but everything had to fall into place. 
    .
    …At Entebbe in 1976 the Israelis were stuck with a plan that had them refueling at the Ugandan airfield… Whole lot of things that could go wrong with that… to the point that it was essentially a deal killer.
    .
    …But Israel was able to get Kenya to approve (couple of days in advance) landing after attack “…for humanitarian purposes…” which in reality meant a scheduled refueling.  Kenya had been on the receiving end of threats from Idi Amin for some time… requests to the U.S. for military aid largely ignored.  After Entebbe Kenya was given U.S. fighter aircraft.  
    .
    …The problem of dealing with Azerbaijan of course is that their government is “unloved…”  The population may be well in hand at the moment… but obviously Iran has a motive to stir things up.
    .
    …The Israelis used to buy oil from the Shah of Iran back in the day.  He also “facilitated” a number of situations to their advantage.  He blew off questions about such dealings saying, “I am not the Godfather of Israel…”  Then one day he was gone…  
    .
    -YP-

  • steelhorse

    majrod steelhorse very interesting article maj how much longer do you think israel will wait before they strike they no their not going to get any real agreement. the idiots in wash are just falling for stalling tactics as allways

  • steelhorse majrod 
    I haven’t done any serious thinking on it.  There’s a lot I don’t know like the actual ntel on how close the Iranians are.  Read an article yesterday that speculated the Iranians have enough Uranium for about four nukes and will have enough for five by June-July.  (Still has to processed past the 5% level)
    The Israelis may also be waiting for a world crisis that might distract attention or wanting to get as close as possible to the end of Obama’s term to mitigate the p[predictable punishment.

  • Michael_mike

    Waterborne I am sure there are fine strategy … on the REJECT pile. They clearly announced that it would be a long operation and I am sure that no sane military would wish that in those proportions. So they are doing what they can not want they could.

    FWIW I would describe it as a strategy of the least effort instead of a light footprint and it really, really looking as if they want to report that problem to the next president. That remind me of a reply from Majrod… 

    “I also think the observations by various credible sources on how the presence of US ground troops can help and influence Iraqi governing without necessarily firing shots is especially important if we really want to FIX the problems vs. kicking cans down the road. – See more at: http://gruntsandco.com/american-combat-troops-inevitable-return-iraq-part/#sthash.ew18vIWf.dpuf

  • Michael_mike
  • YankeePapa

    .
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/us-seeks-to-build-lean-iraqi-force-to-fight-the-islamic-state/ar-BBg4Egx?ocid=mailsignout
    .
    …We never seem to learn anything.  In Vietnam “ghost soldiers” were the rule rather than the exception with the ARVN… An American E-3 made more money than an (honest) ARVN Captain.  (We fought… by 3rd World standards… a rich man’s war…) 
    .
    … If we manage to train up battalions that are superior to what their government has now, look for the head honchos to appoint “politically reliable” commanders for those units.  They might then be kept in the capital… 

    .
    …I remember back in early 1975 I was watching the news.  I had been home from RVN since shortly the before the end of 1969.  Story was about the Cambodian Army… which was on the edge of collapse.  Some of the “soldiers” were as young as eleven… 
    .
    …One company was *very* upset with their C.O.  He not only collected the pay of soldiers who had deserted… but much of the pay of the soldiers still serving.  They killed him and ate him… Cambodia was a weird place… 
    .
    -YP-

  • Michael_mike

    But when I think about it, that will be a risky business to coordinate CAS from locals; from their attitude if not from a language barrier. And regardless of the total number of IS figter killed this week, targets are getting more and more scarce. CF-18 did not dropped a single bomb this week and I am sure it’s not because they have exhausted their ammo. (85% of airstrike are made by USAF)

    So why are they deployed when targets are rare and the enemy got FN-6 which reportedly shot down Iraqi Apache? FWIW it seems everything is setting up slowly for boots on the ground. Especially when there are report for plan of an army of 45,000 while Dempsey say they would need 80,000 to retake Mosul…

  • FWIW – a little dated but a roll up of what’s been destroyed in Iraq/Syria.
    Great (and all too often ignored) point about how using precision weapons to destroy a truck isn’t financially efficient.

    http://complex.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/10/08/destroying_a_30000_islamic_state_pickup_truck_can_cost_half_a_million_dollars?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=*Situation%20Report&utm_campaign=SitRep1009

  • YankeePapa

    majrod ,
    .
    …Reminds me of when UN peacekeeping forces would receive heavy mortar fire from Serb positions from mountain position.  Senior ground commander would call in in air support… and after a couple of days of delay… one aircraft send, dropped two bombs… destroyed one Serb truck.  No doubt frightened the Serbs to death…
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa 
    Very informative article YP though I don’t buy the author’s mesage that we are building a lean Iraqi military instead of a robust one that would be necessary for Iraq’s defense needs.  First the author doesn’t touch the much lower number of Americans being dedicated to today’s effort means we can’t do anything else but train less troops.  He also ignores the plan to stand up an Iraqi “national guard” which of course means you need a smaller Iraqi army.
    Sounds like the same approach as before just different packaging.

  • Michael_mike 
    I don’t remember any reports of Iraqi Apaches being shot down. I don’t think they even have any.  I do remember some russian built helos being shot down.
    I would share your concerns for CAS if it was being done like we would expect e.g. the JTAC’s eyes on target.  What I’ve been reading is the JTACs are in the rear HQ deconflicting airspace and matching aircraft payloads with reported targets by drones, SIGINT and maybe Iraqi forces.

    This isn’t the CAS we typically define as such but it does keep our troops out of “combat”.

  • YankeePapa

    majrod YankeePapa ,
    .
    …I am not inspired when I see the administration talking about a relative handful of troops in a very long period of time.  We are not training up forces to go against Russian armored divisions.  
    .
    …Who will command these forces?  Will there be any real cohesion… or will this be a “snowball made out of marbles..?”  If a an elephant is a mouse designed by a committee… what will this critter look like when it is “mature…?”  (And what will the situation be on the ground at that point…?”
    .
    -YP-

  • steelhorse

    I think there is a whole lot of pissing in the wind going on and nobody is wearing a rain suit. Btw maj nice mobile site looks good.

  • YankeePapa

    majrod ,
    .
    …I think that I had better shut down operations for the night.  My grammar and syntax becoming highly improbable due to sleep deficit… (To say nothing of the department of redundancy department…
    .
    -YP-

  • Michael_mike

    majrod Michael_mike”I don’t remember any reports of Iraqi Apaches being shot down. I don’t think they even have any.  I do remember some russian built helos being shot down.”

    You are right. Just checked and the news was only a newspaper still contain that information so it’s definitely inaccurate. It seems that the deal for 24 Apaches was never signed so I guess it’s was from confused journalists.

  • Michael_mike

    Curiosity: found an article that depict an apparent 23mm rifle. It doesn’t have any optics and it’s everything except ultra mobile (if they are motivated enough to dig a tunnel under an enemy building and then pack it up with explosive I am sure they will find a way to move it once in a while).

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2859301/ISIS-s-latest-killing-machine-10-foot-sniper-rifle-fire-bullets-three-times-size-normal-gun.html

    I got no experience firing heavy caliber but due to its size I would expect its trajectory to be more predictable and if the visibility is similar that what I saw in Texas, it could be still effective at long range … against a vehicle no a T-box.

    FWIW  by looking at the recoil spring mechanism it seems that the whole system is moving inside an outer tube. Any thought?

    I know I am speculating and that it’s not a must have for going to war, but wouldn’t it be annoying to be hit by something that can penetrate more than a sandbag or blow a vehicle far away?

  • Michael_mike

    Not sure which one is the best topic to post this but this had to happen  at some point. They hold hostages and showed an IS flag.

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/police-clear-martin-place-after-gunman-holds-hostages-at-lindt-chocolat-cafe-20141215-127824.html

  • Michael_mike

    Correction: the flag bear arabic marking but AFAIK it’s not IS so far.

  • Michael_mike 
    NP.  I really don’t sweat these small details much.  The difference of a terrorist coming from AQ, ISIS, Al Nusra, Hezbollah etc. is irrelevant except from an intelligence standpoint.
    It’s like making mountains with mouse turds attributing dead Americans in WW2 to the Wermacht, Gestapo, Luftwaffe or Waffen SS.  Too many of the wrong people care too much about which terror organization killed Americans to deflect from a bankrupt foreign policy. This is why some adamantly refer to ISIS as ISIL.  God forbid we use the word Syria.  It might beg questions.
    Food for thought…

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Meanwhile, on another front against ISIS:
    .
    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/191891/druze-israel-syria
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Indications that the Russkis may have decided that maybe Assad can be salvaged.  Possibly boots on the ground or Russian pilots…  Oho, the plot sickens…
    .
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/01/russia-puts-boots-on-the-ground-in-syria.html
    .
    -YP-

  • Michael_mike

    After the red line incident I thought that something have changed, it didn’t. Sometimes I get the feeling that america is getting canadianized (not pretending that’s a good thing) but I couldn’t believe what I read, “The devil make me do it” . The article seemed to be reading between the lines but it’s really what it come to. No wonder even the former Nobel institute director call his Nobel price nomination a failure.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-syria-policy-2015-9

    I have no problem knowing that only 5 us trained fighter remains, that Omar al-Shishani was trained by special forces in Georgia, but lack of accountability? This goes beyond being dishonest. If that what’s retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin mean by careerist the future does not look good for anyone.

    http://www.wnd.com/2015/09/army-special-forces-enraged-over-obama-attacks/

  • clluelo

    Canadianized ???

  • Michael_mike

    cllueloIt’s more a feeling that a reasoning based on well defined term; as in the way we are doing things. In general the population expect our military to be ready and fit for a peacekeeping mission, sometime I am getting the impression that it got priority over protecting our own land. For what I understood due to budget cut we don’t possess much anti tank weapon anymore (i.e. tow II, eryx), according to an ottawa citizen article (search for “millions-in-military-gear-goes-to-scrap-heap-instead-of-ukraine”).

    We got one of the highest percentage of female in the military across NATO yet we (the canadian) still want more, ~1/3. Then there is that study about sexual harassment as if one women was tied to picked and sexually assaulted every 10 seconds. Las time I read a story about this it was a person who was “harassed” after she left naked picture of herself on her unattended iphone that was under all evidence not even password protected, and that was a few years ago.

    That was OT but I am under the impression that some changes are going in the same direction on the other side of the border. Just not the exact same thing.